1. Name: Seema Shakti
Location: New York City
2. What inspired you to begin creating art?
I’m a self-taught visual artist without formal training and I’ve enjoyed visual art as a medium of expression since my childhood. I created art more seriously after graduating college and began to formally identify as a visual artist in 2012. I initially worked with acrylics, however my current preferred mediums are digital and watercolor. I currently create a mix of abstract art and illustrations that center my identity as a womxn of color.
3. To what degree does your cultural background/heritage influence your work?
It plays such a major role in my art as my Indo-Caribbean and South Asian heritage molded me throughout my formative years. My cultural background influences my vibrant use of colors as well as the symbolism and motifs that appear in my work. My heritage is what grounds me and so, it will always have a place in the work that I create.
4. What draws you to create with this medium in particular?
I was initially drawn to watercolors because of it’s organic fluidity, making me feel in tune with the flow of nature. I experimented with it for a bit in the beginning as I worked with acrylics, but I fully transitioned to watercolors when I lived abroad. It was both portable and easy-to-carry, which was the perfect combination for travel! I got into digital art a little over a year ago and I enjoy the versatility of it. It gives me the space and flexibility to experiment and grow in new ways as an artist. It’s ability to mimic the feeling of traditional painting is the reason why I was first drawn to it.
5. How does the medium help to depict your ideas?
Watercolors can sometimes be unpredictable since the flow of water can alter the design I initially had in mind. It very easily crosses the boundaries of my pencil-marked sketches and feels a bit like improv because I need to incorporate and build on the changes in shape that the watercolors create. It works for me since I’m not a perfectionist in my work and I’m not so much concerned with the perfect geometric alignment of my illustrations. Painting with watercolors allows me to let go of expectations and fully trust in the process. I also love its gradual and meditative nature. Digital art has more versatility, allowing me to manipulate my art in a wider range of ways. I can play around with color quite easily and manipulate shape and size in a way that I can’t when working with traditional paint and paper. So, each of the mediums complement each other and digital drawing can allow for more precision, while watercolors are a bit more messy and fluid. I like the balance and it works for me since I start creating with an open-mind and build off of my initial idea as I go along.
6. Why do you use the colors/forms/shapes/textures/patterns that you do?
My intuition guides my work and creating is an organic and meditative process for me. Sometimes I start with an idea or a feeling, however when I’m creating for myself, I typically just start drawing and go with the flow without thinking too hard about the outcome. I’ll use vibrant colors in my work with wave-like brushstrokes. The waves and curved lines represent the fluidity and flow of feminine energy. Many of my illustrations will feature the female form and it’s something that I organically incorporated into my work to celebrate and honor our natural form as womxn. The female body is oversexualized in society and taboo in its naked form, but it’s how we enter this world from the womb. I see the female form as an extension of mother nature and I uplift that in my work. You’ll also see the use of the third eye in my artwork and it represents the window to our inner world and connection to our intuition. I was exposed to the power of meditation, yoga, and ayurveda from a young age and the third eye is representative of that part of my upbringing. Both of my parents were very religious and I was most attracted to the spiritual and mystical aspects of understanding life and our purpose.
7. How would you describe the current trajectory of your work?
For over a year now, I’ve been in a state of flow with my creative practice and I’ve been experimenting and growing in new and innovative ways. I want to further expand my work and share it with a wider audience. My work is created through the lens of my identity as a womxn of color and I think it’s important to share that perspective. I want to continue creating abstract work and illustrations through a mix of personal pieces, commissioned artwork, and collaborations and partnerships. I’d also like to participate in art shows and present my work in new platforms and spaces.
8. Who/ what do you draw inspiration from creatively? Whether it is musical, visual, literary, religious, etc sources?
First and foremost, I draw inspiration from mother nature. And, inspiration can also be found in the lyrics of a song or the sound of an instrument. I may also be inspired by the beautiful entryway of an old building as I’m taking a walk in my neighborhood or I might feel creatively energized through a conversation with friends or acquaintances. The sources of inspiration around me are endless and show up spontaneously. So, it’s about keeping all of my senses open as I interact with the environment around me every day.
9. What is the desired effect that you hope for your art to have on its viewers?
I hope that my work brings people joy through connecting with the magic of their divine feminine power. We get so caught up in the external world that we forget the immense power we hold within. Whether or not a viewer identifies as a womxn, we each have a balance of divine masculine energy and divine feminine energy within us. I seek to strengthen and uplift the divine feminine power within viewers.