I think creativity is important for two reasons.
First, creativity develops your identity. I grew up in a conservative Indian immigrant household and migrant community where standing out or being different was shunned and frowned upon. It was better to put your head down, not ruffle feathers and be like everyone else. This was particularly pronounced for girls, who were expected be demure, obedient to their parents’ wishes and often lacking of any individual agency. It’s perhaps in this restricting environment where I used art to create and carve out an internal world that was solely my own. An identity that was free of what my parents or society expected of me.
Secondly, creativity cultivates a more independent and empathic society. Research shows that fiction reconstitutes the interiority of people’s perceptions about the world. And I think the same can be said about other mediums. Art is perhaps one of the most powerful tools of social change we have. Marlon James says “the more creativity there is amongst the people, the less relevant politics becomes.” I think there is a lot of truth to this statement. The more creativity there is the less relevant politics and ideology becomes. People learn to cultivate independent thinking and judgment and empathy, they can go beyond acting like blind herd animals.
When friends tell me how happy my art posts make them feel. There is no better feeling then knowing that what you are birthing and putting out in the world is making another person happy.
Liberation. As Maya Angelou puts it: “Love liberates you to life”. It allows you to be in a mental state where you feel brave and courageous to take on things you would not think were possible. You cannot be brave in this world without love, whether that is the love of another or self-love. Both forms are essential.
It is my room, my sanctuary. Filled with two bookcases of all the books I own: mostly textbooks, fiction books, biographies and journals I’ve kept since I was 10 years old.
Ambient indie music helps me be more expressive. The moodier the better. And I love podcasts when my mind needs something to munch on. My favourites are Another Round, Two Dope Queens, Sooo Many White Guys, Popaganda & Politially Re-Active.
I always drew as a child, and loved to shade colouring books and draw characters from Disney movies. I also remember that Neil Buchanan’s Art Attack had a huge influence on me. If anyone is looking for a host for the Art Attack reboot, hit me up.
Creation is an act of self-love. It allows us to become more trusting of our voice, it manages the inner demons inside us and opens us up to new experiences. Practice it every day if you can, even if it’s just in the form of reading a book for your own pleasure, or looking out of the window and letting yourself daydream. When we start opening ourselves up to more love and trust, this ripples out to how we relate to others and navigate the world. Never underestimate how powerful that can be.
Fostering more emotional empathy in society. I was an environmental activist in my early undergraduate years, and was confronted again and again with the lack of empathy people on all sides of politics had. Student politics taught me that the world needs less ideologues, and more brave and courageous independent thinkers who can get things done by building bridges not ivory towers.
Emphatic Friends, Pasta, Art, Engaging Conversations, Music & Books. In that order.
I am finishing my last year of law school at the moment. I thought it was going to be beyond difficult carving out time to make art. But I found that taking spurts of time out to splash paint onto canvas actually helped me recharge my batteries and get motivated. I didn’t exactly plan to paint, but I did listen to my intuition and my mental energy when I was feeling mentally worn out by all the linear learning I was doing and needed to recharge my batteries.
The more stressed or depressed or enraged I am, the more dynamic and intuitive the work becomes. The most original and raw work I produce is in this state. This is something shared by a lot of artists. Having a highly sensitive brain might be a disadvantage as a professional adult, but a distinct advantage when you’re an artist. The creative process also acts as a form of therapy, where I can articulate all my nonverbal frustrations externally. I always feel refreshed and more centred after a solid painting session.
Women. The women that are constant sources of inspiration to me are: my nani (maternal grandmother), my mum (on a good day), Maya Angelou , Oprah, Michelle Obama, JK Rowling… Basically women who defied the odds and created masterpieces out of the scraps life gave them.
I want to continue to explore my identity through my art and my sense of belonging in this world as I get older and experience more of it. I also want to express that emotions are not abnormal. They do not make you weak. If you feel things, that is a source of strength, it should be embraced and revered as a work of art in of itself.