Namita is a South East Asian American artist born in 1981 and raised in
the San Francisco Bay Area. She earned her BA in World Arts and
Cultures from the University of California, Los Angeles, during which
time she also studied painting in Italy. After graduation, she pursued
her interests as a performing artist, traveling nationally and
internationally with various theater and dance companies. Her work as
an interdisciplinary artist took her to India where she connected with
a desire to blend mediums through painting directly. She has been
painting full-time since 2005.
Drawing from my dual backgrounds as both a South East Asian and an American, my work is a hybrid of Western media and Asian craft, ornament, and symbolism. I apply acrylic and oil media in between and on top of a variety of Indian materials: sari fabric, circular mirrors and sequins, Henna tattoo prints and kitschy images of Indian myths from calendars, posters and comic books. Working my way in and around these various materials, the mixture begins to dance, exploding off the canvas in a rhythm of brilliant colors, fragmented Hindu idols, ancient stories, and modern commercialism. I explore the way our nation’s preoccupation with borrowed religious symbols and iconography reflects a struggle to recapture mythic significance. Ironically, the flood of these highly charged images into the commercial marketplace, such as using Hindu deities to create trendy t-shirts and handbags, only increases Western culture’s hunger for a connection to what an Eastern worldview offers. I question how these Indian images, lingering in our subconscious, survive in a consumer driven culture. Do their meanings change? Can such imagery be transformed or re-invented altogether? By reformulating the traditional boundaries of Indian spirituality and craft with Western painting techniques, I create a structure for cross-cultural dialogue that tackles my own questions of spiritual and cultural identity. In turn, these narratives investigate the role myth plays in contemporary art and society.