Artist Interview | Naga Cuddapah

Become acquainted with perhaps a few unknown dimensions – thoughts, ambitions, wisdoms, life changing moments – of this inspiring artist.

Naga Vaishnavi, artist

When it comes to your art/writing, explain what you do.

Painting and sketching were some of my hobbies from my school days. I chose to paint using different mediums like oil and acrylic paints, poster colours and oil pastels, based on the concept, the background material and time. I generally do the artwork when I want to express something that I cannot express in words. I choose this to reflect my thoughts at that point in time. I was trained by my teacher, Mr. Mathews, for my art basics while I was in school. His classes inspired me to further pursue this as a strong hobby. I do it out of passion and love to do it.

What project are you working on now?

I am an architect by profession and an artist by passion. I am currently working on making paintings on the theme of Indian festivals, its essence and celebrations. I am inspired by the way each festival is depicted and celebrated across different states of India, with different cultures and traditions.

Why do you do what you do?

I do this out of passion and interest. The finished art piece and the reflection of thoughts in my mind on the canvas gives me pleasure and satisfaction.

Art by Naga Vaishnavi

What is your pet peeve about the art world?

Very unstable and lot of real talented artists do not get access to showcase their work. There are so many silenced artists who are way too far from recognition.

What is your strongest childhood memory?

My strongest memory dates back to when I scored a 3rd rank in the entrance exam for my bachelor’s course. I applied to a state university to pursue my degree in architecture. Choosing architecture, the composition of art and engineering,  was an unusual call that I made as the general norm of choice was between engineering or becoming a doctor in India back then. There were many who underestimated my competence and criticized my trial and choice. Thankfully my parents supported my choice and work. Ranking 3rd and gaining entry into the university was a strong answer. It instilled in me confidence and made my ideas more concrete, laying a path for my future.

What is your scariest experience?

There were so many incidents the past five years or so that made me stronger and confident. They instilled confidence in myself to take life as it comes, even if it’s hard to do so. A dad’s little princess transformed into a self-reliant, independent, confident girl. Even when facing tough situations, I knew that there was something better waiting ahead. Thankfully from mid-2018 there were positive changes in situations, or rather, now I had learned to turn the tables. 

Art by Naga Vaishnavi

Describe a real-life experience that inspired you.

I have always been in a very protective environment where I learned lot of valuable life lessons, such as love, education, ethics, values and equality. The time period between 2013 and 2018 broke that cocoon around me and let me face the harsh reality of life, or rather taught me lessons of the contrasting life situations within which I grew up. It taught me to value my talent. It opened new paths in my life. Love and equality of gender were major driving factors behind the change. What was once a care-free hobby is now a serious passion. It’s a very effective way of communicating your thoughts. Now art is a serious job. Now I even choose to write. I have written technical papers that are published in various international journals.

What’s the most indispensable item in your practice?

The most indispensable item is the urge to do and feel. When your heart wills you to do something at that moment, you can create art with whatever available material around you. You could use anything to create art if your heart is in it; you could use wasted materials and still create a beautiful mural. When your heart does not feel like creating something even if you have access to wide variety of material, nothing useful can be done. 

How has your practice changed over time?

I don’t have a commercial practice of art work. I do it out of interest. I paint only when my heart yearns to transform my thoughts onto a canvas. I paint when something strongly inspires me. During my hobby classes I used to paint on a regular basis. Then my pace of making paintings slowed down as I was a student of architecture. The creative works that we worked on during the graduation tenure were far ahead of the paintings I did. They were practical solutions coupled with creativity, whereas paintings and sketching could go outside of the box to a great extent and land you in a Utopian world. 

What superpower would you like to have and why?

I would like to have magical powers that can surpass the layers of political and economic systems, to let education reach everyone.

What is your dream creative project?

A project where we could make learning easy, interesting and understandable through sketches, pictures and art works, rather than bulky black and white text books. Pictures and figures convey the most and make learning logical and fun. Here concepts should be conveyed to the students, not the memorised text.

Which place in the world do you find to be the most inspiring?

I believe that it is not the place alone that inspires me; I try to draw inspiration from the world around me. But schools, universities and educational institutions are the major source of my happiness as they are the places where numerous faces, ideas and thoughts are generated. Innocence, inquisitiveness, creativity and the passion of the students who eventually make it big in the world keeps me drawn towards it.

Creatively, where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I want to develop my skills and use the art works to help make people educated and not just literate. I would like to try to use art as a strong medium of education.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached” – Swami Vivekananda. This quote was the best advice I have ever received.

Naga Vaishnavi is currently based in Bangalore, India. Visit https://www.facebook.com/arttvaish

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