Germany Is Hot For 15 Days A Year

A wedding of a dear friend brought me to spend a couple of weeks in Europe this summer. The trip started in Germany. I went a little early before the wedding started to spend time with her and help out with prep for the wedding. She lives about an hour outside of Stuttgart in a small town called Backnag. The wedding took place in Schwabisch Hall which is where the groom is from. There was a small town and the surroundings were a bit more rural. The wedding was a combination of German, Bosnian, and American traditions. 

Next we spent a day in the Western wine region called Pfalz. There we went to a few wineries and drove around the country side while exploring a few of the small towns. The landscape was truly beautiful set among all the vineyards. We spent the night in Kaiserslautern and the next day we were off to Berlin! 

You see, Germany is hot for about 15 days a year so there is no air conditioning anywhere. You better believe we were there during that heat wave. Actually most of our trip was during unseasonably hot weather. We decided not to really do any touristy things, but instead just explore by walking around. 

I remembered seeing on social media that my old friend from Pratt had moved to Berlin. We hadn’t been in touch for quite some time, but I wrote to him in Instagram and we met up the next day for coffee. It was like no time had passed and we just picked up where we left off. That turned out to be such a pleasant surprise of Berlin. He was describing the neighborhoods to us. He mentioned that the young hip people will move into an edgy neighborhood and stay there to settle. So those areas get a bit gentrified and then turn into an area with hip parents and kids. Until, its the next neighborhood’s turn. So, right now Neukolln is a little on the edgier side and still pretty raw in my eyes. 

Some of the neighborhoods we hit included: Mitte, Museum Island, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Neukolln, Tiergarten

Recommendations for food and drinks: Limonadier, Umami, Amrit, Monsieur Voung, Silo Coffee

Thus ended our time in Germany - next up: Malta!


I am gonna go ahead and say it: I like Montreal bagels better than New York bagels. I love food rivalry and if something is described to me as Sally’s vs. Pepe’s, I am so on board. We got bagels from St. Viateur first and ate them in the alley as one is supposed to. Then on the last day we got bagels from Fairmount. I am not exactly sure if I could tell the difference, but I couldn’t stop eating them. Montreal included a whole lot of walking and exploring, good eats and drinks, hiking up Mont Royal, and just basking in the sun a little. The trip would not be complete without some art so we hit up Musee des Beaux Arts of course. I felt like we could have used a couple extra days to experience a few of the other neighborhoods, but we loved it and definitely need to go back during the summer months!



Pilsen and YJA

The end of school finished up in a bit of a whirlwind. Things like the party bike and union party come to mind. But, I felt like I was almost busier after school got out than during the school year. How does that even happen!? 

Next up was beginning to prep for my trip to Chicago. I ended up in Pilsen a few days early and stayed in THE cutest Airbnb. My room was inside of an art gallery and the owner cooked me breakfast each day. Pilsen originally was the Czech neighborhood, but has turned into the Mexican neighborhood since then. This meant the absolute best noms. The first meal I ate was at Los Comales and for five bucks I got a vegetarian Gordita and a Jarritos. How can you even beat that. For dinner I was flying solo so I went to the bar Pl zen which was the Czech spelling of the neighborhood. There I had some veggie tostadas which were just so amazing with the most evolved flavors. I was looking for a drink not too sweet so I asked the bartender what she recommended. I got a hibiscus margarita which just the right flavor balance. The next one she made with Mezcal and that was absolutely spot on. Next day after my host made me breakfast, I was off to meet a childhood friend in south loop. We had brunch at a spot called Yolk and walked around a bit. Dinner was back in Pilsen at a new restaurant called S.K.Y. and boy did it not disappoint. I would highly recommend that one! Since it was also the fourth of July I encountered a lot of fireworks and it literally sounded like bombs were going off outside of my bedroom windows. They were so rogue and so amazing. We went up to 18th St station to watch them and the combination of rain and wind is exactly how I expected a Chicago fourth of July to be. Next day it was time for the Mexican Art Museum and if you ever end up in Pilsen, it is a must see. Things like neon signs of “Make Tacos Not War” and the most amazing Diego Rivera’s along with some more local artists. 

Before I knew it, I was taking a train over to the Westin O’hare for the Young Jains of America Convention. I was invited to speak at the convention after writing an article for their publication. I guess they liked what I had to say about being an artist growing up in the Jain community. Originally, I was going to tie in my abstract work to a Jain principal. But, my go to person Neelam told me not to force. That made my life a lot easier. I conducted three sessions and ran them all the same way. I started off with a Keith Haring drawing game. I posted up four huge sheets of paper to the walls and had the kids count off by fours to create the groups. I am referring to them as kids like my students, but the reality is that the Jain Networking Forum group was just about my age. After this game was over I had everyone take their seats and I went through my little slide show. I basically had some pictures taking them through a journey from end of high school through my current day life. Two of the sessions ended with a theater game however, the college discussion went so well that we didn’t even have time for a last game. 

I felt like the sessions went pretty well. All the people seemed pretty engaged and participated with everything. Each audience held some people who were perusing a career in the arts and I think it was a little cathartic for all of us to have found people who struggled with similar things. One interesting thing did happen during the high school session. They all agreed they were creative, but no one was really going to go to college for a creative field. The session included all girls and one boy. When I had the group unpack this a really backwards mindset came forward. They told me that girls go into more liberal arts fields whereas boys may tend to go into more of a STEM career. I am still thinking about this sentiment. It made me wonder what kind of a bubble some of these kids were growing up in. That is really not my reality nor one that I grew up with. Looking back on my experience with the Jain community, we were really progressive. Even down to a thing like not doing ghee bohli ever. I mean our high school patshala teacher used to be an atheist and brought a really different perspective to all the discussions we had. 

But, this is how the mindset is going to change. Starting these conversations and opening people’s minds is how we are going to end up with more south east asians in the creative fields. I didn’t truly feel like I could BE an artist until my summer after graduating from undergrad while I was at Oxbow. I want the Indian community to know they can pursue the field. It is definitely not going to be the safe choice and you have to work so hard to make sure you are the best at your craft and hone your skill. But, it will leave you infinitely more happy. 

Billowing Textiles

The textiles I have been working on started in India a few years ago. I used my same monotype process, but instead of adding paper to the plexi plate I added a sheer fabric called georgette. When I started this project in India I had this vision. I wanted the fabric to drape and dance along the wall. Well, I couldn’t pierce any holes into the wall so I had to hang them instead. Since then I have had the opportunity to continue to play with the textiles. I still needed to figure out how to make my installation to get some good pictures in order to propose to galleries and museums. 

Then one day I met Chelsea Suddes from Pearl Weddings. We were working on a styled shoot for a magazine together - The Perpetual You. Chelsea has got to be one of the most genuine kind hearted people I have ever met. She was putting together a moody/ethereal styled shoot and the color of my textiles were totally on par with the color scheme. I was a little apprehensive about going because I was afraid everyone was going to love love and just be too happy. Well they did love love but, each vendor brought together was so talented in their medium. Mike Suddes helped me install the fabric and the floral designer from Pine and Petal added the perfect touch of pink cherry blossoms to finish off the display. 



Planning & Design Coordination:




Hair & Makeup:




Models: Johnathan and Falak

Decorations & Stylist: Heart of Gold Decor Design

Side note… Mike Suddes is a singer song writer and has the most stunning soothing voice. I have been fortunate enough to see him perform a few times and I see a collab in our future. His original songs are the exact type of folk music I like to listen to while I create. I had my students listen to Blind Pilot last year and most of them got into while they sketched in their sketchbooks. One boy drew a demon because he hated the music so much. But, they all reacted to the music and that was the exact point of the lesson. 

Next, I decided to make a warm series of textiles. This just happened to be in the color scheme of an elopement styled shoot Chelsea was helping coordinate. Shaina Lee had this vision and Chelsea brought it to life. So, there we were the day after a hurricane at Yale University’s Harkness Tower about to bring magic to life. I’ll just let these pictures speak for themselves. This shoot had a few features including British Vogue and Let’s Bee Together!



Photographer: Shaina Diaz Photography

Planner & Designer: Pearl Weddings & Events

Bridal Gowns: Gypsy Bride

Hair & Make up: Belle Noelle Beauty

Flowers: Fizz and Fluers

Signage: This Delightful Design

Cake : Cake Lore Co

Artist: Studio Strata

Furniture: Gather & Lounge

Models: Leesha & Andrew Wheeler



Flaquites, Vegan Tacos, and Homemade Bread

My relationship with Texas has been very specific. I have visited a few times over the years since my uncle and aunt lived there, but never really explored any of the cities as an adult. So, with given a February break from teaching a road trip was waiting for me in the shape of a triangle. The stops included Houston, Austin, and Dallas. 

Houston is indebted with a rich museum scene. I loved every second of it. The Menil collection is a really beautiful long space with an interesting collection. Right around the corner from there is the Rothko Chapel. Upon entering this non denominational chapel, you instantly feel at peace. Something about the floor to ceiling black and violet paintings giving way to a little light which enthralls you in quiet introspection. Rothko paintings always leave me with lingering thoughts, but the chapel itself I still have not been able to shake the feeling from the space. 

All the museums are concentrated in a little museum district area. It has a completely different feel from the suburbs of Houston. I could spend hours admiring the varying architecture going from street to street. The contemporary art museum had an exhibit I didn’t want to miss. It looks like this sliver of a aluminum corrugated slice. Downstairs was a series of photographs documenting the lgbtq scene in Dehli. When we got down there Nihar joked this exactly my Netflix account right now. But, I mean who isn’t watching Queer Eye!? No, I think he meant more the documentary How Gay is Pakistan? It’s a must watch and very eye opening. 

Somehow we seem to always end up at a sculpture garden and Houston was no exception. It was set in the middle of a downtown area so very industrial opposed to being set in grass or amongst the trees. 

The road trip continued onto Austin! 

We got stuck with rather cold and dreary weather in Austin, but that has always meant more time for indoor art. The Blanton Museum had this extensive Ellsworth Kelly exhibit going on inside as well as a new structure that had just opened outside called “Austin”. It was one of those odd shapes with a few color spectrums. I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about it, but it was interesting even with gray rainy light pouring through. 

Last couple days ended in Dallas.

We visited this amazing sculpture garden called The Nasher. Everything about it was just what you need from sculpture garden. I used some of the images for a lesson back at school. The kids were especially inspired by some of the Picasso's and Richard Sera's.