This is more about how I fell in love with India than an artist statement. Until I find the right words to articulate why I am so driven to paint about India, my current body of work this will have to tide you over...
I was knitting away in my barely heated Bambi Airstream until my eyes shut themselves. I was afraid of the night and the nightmares of doors, empty haunting baby cribs, Amma, and feeling totally inadequate to face my former year married to my Indian ex-husband and an uncertain future ahead of me. Now, fast forward four years, I am tailgating out of the Hall & Oates concert and my cell rings. Hello in a strong British Singaporean accent this Angela from Raffles Design International, I would like to offer you a job in Mumbai, India. The next morning I asked my boyfriend, did I accept a job in Mumbai last night???
Fast forward again two months later my driver Chandra is navigating the complex streets of Mumbai at dusk. He is attempting to find me an egg stand. I have not a stitch to eat at home. I haven't found a proper grocery store yet, and anyways I am too tired to cook. I step out of the four by four in silly mint green pointed toe strappy four inch high heels, a tight chiffon pencil skirt with cotton sweater set. You would have thought all the men smoking at this dark gas lit egg stand just witnessed a lunar landing! I felt all eyes upon me. I paid six rupees for my half a dozen eggs packaged in a dirty flimsy plastic bag. I clumsily stumbled through ruble and dusty dirt to make my way back to the safety of the back passenger seat.
That month Chandra did find me a huge three floor supermarket appliance store. Unfortunately, it was an hour from my residence in good traffic. It took me three months before I realized I had one of Mumbai's best fish markets, fruit and vegetable vendors, an adorable restaurant that cooked up amazing Palak Paneer, and more cutlery, metal tins, and plastic buckets that could outfit a mansion, just three blocks away!
Why did it take me so long? Fear, road and side walk construction in almost every direction, the dark unknown, and being alone. There was a circle park with salwar kameezed suited women power walking with their middle aged, combed over, and henna haired husbands. This was my night life for those first three months. My simple food source was the pharmacy near my house. Here I found milk, rice, pasta, and shampoo!
So my days continued driving down at dusk to the Taj President with my only friend in Mumbai, Chandra my driver. I so appreciated his kindness. He found a plant nursery for me to buy baby bamboos and jasmine which I took care of like my babies.
After three months of the downtown commute past the beautiful queen’s necklace and the palace looking mosque in the sea my school was ready to open only four blocks north of my house! I was able to discover the sweet by lanes between my flat and college. My world expanded beyond the circle park. I walked with a homeless boy almost daily who was alarmed with coloring books he would sell that day. At the end of our walk I would buy him a banana. I ventured into pristine Hindu temples with shrines, saints, and deities. I even discovered Churchgate - Bandra train line that led me straight downtown.
I started to take weekly evening classes and quickly developed my own tribe of friends all Indian from all walks of life. They took me to restaurants were we ate off banana leaves and introduced me to Bombay delicacies like Chinese dosas and pav baji. They took me on dates where we filmed Mumbai at night. We went dancing. We investigated fabric markets that made one hundred a one nights a reality and they simply invited me for tea in their home to gossip and laugh.
Now I am going to take you back in time to the most and only magical part of my first marriage - my honeymoon in Rajasthan. This is where I first fell in love with India. Before I met my first husband I knew very little about India. We arrived to Delhi airport a dust bowl that smelled like combination of urine cakes, mold, mixed with some unidentifiable spices. We traveled admits huge trucks that looks like elephants going to a circus that had paint on their fenders - Please honk. Why wasn't it loud enough at 3 AM! I could see flashed of baby pigs out my car window.
The next day we ventured into downtown Delhi. I was memorized by how under every tree there was a little business. One a barber, next a man ironing, next a chai shop, a fruit vender, and was that one sewing? Fell in love immediately with this chaotic crazy place. Be it the ride through the desert in the vintage Ambassador car as I watched the women with piles of stick upon their heads, the blue city of Jodpur as I stood next to this bull with tomato red painted horns, the regal desert palaces with mirrored rooms that flickered with candle light, or the quiet streets of Jaisalmer with their stone laced porticos. I was forever in love with India. It's actually etched into my soul maybe I was here in a past life. Who knows? My Hindi teacher says you look white on the outside but you are all Indian on the inside. No one could ever given me a bigger compliment!
Now, I live here in Traverse City, Michigan with my little family but in my heart I will always be a Mumbaikar, one from Mumbai. I am still constantly dreaming nightly of putting my feet back on Indian soil. Last year I spent five months in India. I lead a specialized small tour to India once a year - www.intentionaltourist.com . On my night stand are piles of books delving into the history that surrounds the lands of the Rajput and Mughal fortresses, hand painted courtyard mansions, bustling markets, lake palaces, and the lives of the past royalty of India. Please enjoy pursuing my art and visit my site often to see my latest writings and art.
I am designer, art/design lecturer, researcher, writer, artist, fashion illustrator, painter, traveler, explorer of many artistic mediums, languages, art movements, and thoughts. Much of my career has been spent at the highest level of design companies: Ford Motor Company as a car designer and later in charge of education for over 150 designers, many clay modelers, and the management; Fisher-Price and Hasbro as both a plastic toy designer and soft material designer, and with Michael Graves witnessing him create his Target and Alessi line. I am extremely interested in a global picture. After living in Mumbai being the Product Design Manager and more recently getting back from a three month exploration in Europe and five months in India; I am very interested in how others think, speak, govern, vote, express themselves or not, live their lives, consume, dress, colors people wear, architecture, decorate their homes, and their historical context which they knowingly or unknowingly live their everyday lives.