Hey everyone! It’s time for an new installment of #SlayInspireCreate!
Today I want to share a bit about my background and it’s relationship to my life as an artist. I will also be introducing another artist who I feel shares similar experiences and ideology.
The setting was Agra, India. The year was 1980. Perhaps just a few days after I was born, I was abandoned by my unknown birth parents and left at the gates of the ” Home for Crippled and Unwanted Children. ” A few months later, I was adopted and flew to Boston, Massachusetts to join my new family. I have not returned to India since I left in 1980.
In 1957, Shirin Neshat was born in Qazvin, Iran ( possibly the 3rd most religious city in Iran at the time ). At the age of 17, Shirin left Iran to study abroad in the States. Due to the start of the Revolution, she was unable to return to her country for a significant amount of time. In 1990, Shrin did return to Iran but only for a visit.
Because I was a baby when i was adopted i obviously do not remember anything about my life in India and there is no information about my birth family. Over the years I have researched this controversial and sensitive topic. I have come to several conclusions. These revelations have led me to further believe that a search for information about my birth family would only lead to more uncertainty and heartbreak. I’ve had to accept that there will probably always be questions about my past in India that will go unanswered. I am at peace with this. Honestly i believe that my life is a true gift. The stars have aligned in such a way, granting me the life that I’m living today and I consider myself very lucky.
( My parents later told me that they actually adopted me after adopting another child first. Sadly she died before being able to come over to the States. To this day, I celebrate her birthday as mine. Prema’s name is also my middle name in memory of her. )
Shirin and I both grew up in warm, loving supportive families.
Shirin grew up in a home with traditional Muslim values. While I grew up in a home with Christian values.
Shirin’s father encouraged and supported her journey to be an ” individual, to take risks, pursue higher education and to see the world. ”
My parents very much encouraged and supported me to do the same in many ways.
Shirin’s exhile from her country of birth would become a pivotal moment in the foundation of her work. It would spark ideas and feelings about what ” home ” is, as well as the loss of it and finding her identity.
Ever since I was young, I have felt similar emotions. Never quite fitting in or feeling truly accepted by one group or another. I was always looking for my place in the world. I would often retreat to my imagination, music/art and other kindred spirits. Over the years, I have learned to accept myself.
Art was always been a savior in many ways. In countless forms and various mediums, it has always been there for me no matter what, getting me through the darkest times! And whether it’s been drawing, painting, fashion, music, culinary, books, art museums and galleries, other artists or body modification. Art has been my greatest inspiration. To be an artist is everything to me!
Art would also become a way for Shirin to express her feelings of loss of identity and a connection to home as well as cultural differences and the female experience.
Here is a link to a beautiful video about Shirin in her own words. Shirin Neshat, Shirin on Shirin YouTube Channel: Out of Sync – Art in Focus https://youtu.be/VXZkn0nL34Y
Shirin’s return/visit to Iran was also a very important moment in her life. In her own words ” It was probably one of the most shocking experiences that I ever had. The difference between what I had remembered from the Iranian culture and what I was witnessing was enormous. The change was both frightening and exciting. I have never been to a country that was so ideologically based. Most noticeable of course was the change in people’s physical appearance and public behavior. ”
I would eventually like to make my way back to India for a visit. I personally have very few connections to my country of birth. But I would say one of the ways i connect to India is by food. My parents introduced Indian food to me as I was growing up. The intoxicating scent of the diverse and rich flavors takes me to the most comforting place. To this day I always celebrate my birthday by eating delicious Indian food.
I believe what ties Shirin and I together the most, is that the way we express ourselves. We create, live and breathe art as a way to connect with our roots.
Over the years, we have revisited our countries of birth through our art in some way or another. I believe by doing this we have also both found peace within ourselves. We have come to realize that our past will always be a part of us but will not define who we are.
I welcome all of you to continue to follow this blog. And I thank you for reading this very personal post! ♡
One last Note: From the movie Lion, Sia – Never Give Up, YouTube Channel: DopeLyrics https://youtu.be/6EWNV33Ws1g
Memento Vivere or Remember to live!