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Inspirational Woman: Sujata Dere | Intrepid traveller, thinker, seeker, artist

Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently?

Being from a military family, I grew up in remote areas of India. The sound of peacocks calling, jackals howling and discovering snakes in the garden were a common occurrence. I was always close to nature, chasing butterflies and ladybirds, equally at home climbing mountains and living in deserts. Growing up in a community where every religion was respected and all festivals celebrated, I was confused, when we moved to a large city and I was questioned about my beliefs. My parents had always stressed the importance of morals and values over religion and rituals.

From a very young age, in fact ever since I can remember, I would express myself by drawing and all my books were covered with ‘doodles’. Little did I know then that this would be the beginning of my journey as an artist. I have been painting and experimenting with various forms of art ever since. From clay, to stippling, to charcoal, pastels, acrylics and now mixed media.

Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote?

My first solo exhibition was held in 1992 at the India International Centre, New Delhi and I continue to exhibit till date. In addition, I have taught children with special needs over the years. In 2015, I suffered a devastating tsunami in my life – this led me to withdraw into my shell and my paints remained untouched. Slowly with the help of my loved ones and my effort in seeking solace, I turned to Art Therapy. This helped me to come to terms with my grief. Along with my personal evolution, I realized the ability of art to touch and heal. The therapeutic effect of art as a powerful medium, inspired me to reach out to others, trying to overcome their own travails. I am now qualified to use art as a therapy for people coping with grief, stress and personal challenges. This journey has brought new meaning to my art and the way I choose to express myself.

What has been your biggest challenge in achieving success

Painting is my passion as well as profession. Bridging the gap between the creative and the commercial has been a constant challenge. I would love to spend all my time creating; but an artist has to play many other roles as well What has been your greatest achievement, personally.

I would like to believe that I have been true to my ideals to live an authentic life, where, what I think, what I say and what I do are in harmony with each other.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?

“You are all the places you have been, the sights you have seen, the marvels you have touched. Each passing moment is another brushstroke on the canvas. So rise, live always with passion and heart, and someday you will look back on your life and see a work of art.” Beau Taplin. I am an artist and an artist I will remain. Finding expression through the brush, pen, music or dance; exploring the mysteries of the mind and universe, finding expression through any medium.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My parents gave me roots. The freedom to think, be, and form my own opinions gave me wings. Various experiences moulded me further. My children, with all their questioning and examining showed me completely new perspectives and shook me out of my complacency, making me revaluate my beliefs further. I would say, the journey of life has been my greatest inspiration.

What does the future hold for you?

In my formative years, I was busy gaining knowledge and gathering experiences which kept adding layers to my personality and helped me evolve. Now, my goal is to unravel, simplify and live by the essence of what I have distilled as my own truths. My spiritual catharsis continues to be reflected in my art. When I started out as an artist, my work was very detailed and aspiring for perfection. As I grew, I found that life has many nuances and imperfections. Reflecting my inner evolution, my paintings have also changed and simplified leaving out unnecessary clutter. In the future, I aspire to take my life and my art to a higher unified harmonious whole.