Life and Loss
An Interview with Uma Sharda
by Alyssa Laube
About: Uma Sharda is a “design specialist in product packaging and labeling”, painter, and overall creator! Raised by Hindu parents, there are spiritual themes to her recent work as well as those focusing on femininity.
Your “Unborn Series” features images of “babies, hearts, wombs, blood and bone.” Could you explain the meaning behind it?
When I think about the unborn, I think of a fetus and womb. The colours, textures and various visuals of bone and blood is fascinating. I think of miscarriages, abortions, life not yet breathing and the heartache and anxiety that can occur in the time of pregnancy. I wanted to distort the simple shape of the heart and use the womb, rib cage and pelvis to depict the twisted feelings of love and loss. I wanted to explore the concept of life incased in bone, muscle and tissue – not knowing the outer world of air and earth. I explore infertility, femininity and whether motherhood is an essential role in a woman’s life.
How did your studies in art history impact you?
It is great knowing how art developed with human evolution. Not only do I appreciate the complex and various ways we can visually express ourselves, but also the ability to add and extend that knowledge. Personally, art history allows me to explore movements and recognize the visual documentation of how we live, think and understand our reality at any given time. Reading about artists who were exploring similar challenges as I am is fantastic. Seeing their successes and strategies for overcoming them is even more incredible!
How was training at Emily Carr in graphic design different?
The culture and way of teaching at Emily Carr is unique; I haven’t met any art or design students from other institutions that have described the same experiences. I learned to be resourceful and ruthless with refining the best idea out of many. My fellow students had diverse backgrounds and we were able to provide many perspectives that challenged and opened each others minds. I learned to define how I get creative ideas, what creativity is, and how others access it.
Does your culture and/or heritage impact your life? How so, particularly in British Columbia?
Of course. Your identity is the lens with which you view life, and I want to be true to myself. I acknowledge the privilege of having Hindu parents and look into what I have learned from the valuable culture they raised me in. I continue to find ways to express being Hindu and born/raised in northern B.C.. A small town like Kitimat was uniquely multicultural with over 20 different languages spoken in a population of 12000.
To expand on the previous question, could you briefly describe your “Lotus Series” and how Hinduism is integrated into your work?
The lotus is a symbol for calm and peace. This was seen in paintings with goddesses holding a lotus in their hand and gods meditating on the flowers in the lake, representing peaceful, not chaotic, minds. Since the lotus rests on the surface of the lake, but has roots below and flowers above, I think of it as an umbilical cord from earth to sky. In my paintings, I take it further: from water to stars. But there are other ways I use Hinduism in my work. The “holy trinity” describes how life is experienced with Shiva the destroyer, Vishnu the preserver and Brahma the creator. The Shiva dancer manipulated time and space and was part of the natural motion of the world. I didn’t want to paint the specific gods and goddesses, but I love the dancer as the force that moves us all through time and space, so I took the positions from Classical Indian dance (Bharatham). Also, I incorporate the “om” sign to provoke a feeling of peace. I currently have my Lotus Moon Dancer series artwork on display at the Naam Restaurant from Jan 20-Mar 3.
What’s your favourite quote and why?
“Do or do not there is no try.” Not every action will show success but every action snowballs into another. This momentum ensures success. When I think I’m trying, I know I’m worrying, and I have to stop myself and say, “Keep it simple – Do or do not.” Failure doesn’t matter.
cell: 778.893.6144 email: email@example.com
Uma’s work is currently on display at The Naam Restaurant in Kits. (January 2015-March 2015) Visit The Naam on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NAAMRestaurant