Muthulakshmi Anu Narasimhan’s manifesto as an artist
All my life I’ve been an artist. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been painting. It has helped me combat trauma, insecurities, and stress. But it hasn’t been a short road to becoming a full-time artist. I started off as a computer scientist in college actually, and found it not to my liking. Not because the subject matter was difficult, but for my creative brain, dull and not artistically motivating. So, after a year of being uninspired, I changed my major to studio art.
Studying art teaches you that art is hard work and that it requires as much discipline as other areas of studies. But then graduation loomed and the world often tells us artists that we won’t survive in the real world. That what we learned is useless and unmarketable. After working in the corporate world for many years, I can say this is not true. Art has truly been the most valuable thing I have ever studied. So much so that I quit my job last January to become a full-time artist.
Indian culture is rich in many kinds of art and that is what drives me. I want to tell the stories of us. I grew up in the Netherlands and ended up here in America for university. The stories in the Indian diaspora are as rich and diverse as the history of Indian art. And that is why I want to tell the world our stories. I want to show the world how the Indian diaspora incorporates its culture of origin with its life outside. How our trials and tribulations are both unique and common. In art, everything is beautiful and everything deserves to be told.
I like to think that my art is colorful because our stories and culture are so colorful! My grandmother always jokes that those who have their origins in the subcontinent can genetically not wear subdued colors. While I disagree, I do think our culture conditions us to have an affinity for color. And that love of color makes its way into my art. After all, what is a celebration of our stories without the color to go along with it?
The thing that has surprised me so much in my artistic journey is how encouraging and excited people that I meet are about the fact that I like to tell stories through my art. They see reflections of their childhood, their experiences, and even their bygone family members in my art. I think that is a reminder that while fine art may not be something most people pursue, it is hard to extract it from us. And that’s why it’s not just in my blood, but in yours too.