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The transformative power of experiences

In the pursuit of conformity, we sometimes find ourselves veering off the path we originally set out on. For over a decade, when asked, I have always said ‘I am an artist.’ I am an artist: four measly words to describe the multitude that is so many of us, man, woman, human; collections of muscle, ligaments, cells, a symphony of perfectly balanced procedures.

And yet the four simple words we describe ourselves with are exclusively based on our ability to bring a brush to canvas, or a pencil to paper. Such descriptions are basic, confining, and it took me many years to realize that my identity, all of our identies, extend beyond any singular label we assign ourselves. Initially, like many others, my journey began with creating art and showcasing it in public spaces.

As I immersed myself in this new venture, I explored a multitude of artistic techniques, with drawing holding a special place in my heart. While I produced countless drawings, some evolving into finished pieces exhibited, collected, and sold, I often found my work feeling isolated and vulnerable amidst other artworks. Like a crow amongst a field of peacocks, both myself and my art never quite fit. Despite this, I remained relentlessly productive, driven by the need to express myself authentically, regardless of external validation.

The constraints of physical form and creative freedom led me to withdraw from practicing in the Middle East, opting instead to travel and broaden my horizons. Yet, I acknowledge that the Middle East remains a fertile ground for my productivity, devoid of expectations. From the outset, I understood that each piece I created was interconnected. Like pieces of a puzzle, they were never meant to stand alone but rather to contribute to a much larger narrative. Rabindranath Tagore once said, "In art, man reveals himself and not his objects." Reflecting on my journey, I realize that my creative expression serves as a testament to the transformative power of experiences. Trusting in the flow of creativity and feeling supported by life's journey has taught me the value of both acceptance and confrontation. I am no longer obsessed with who I am, what I have to be, or what role I play in the game of life.

Liberated from the need to define myself with such broad strokes, I find myself in the continuous evolution of my art: a new facet of the same face looking back at me with every new creation. My work serves as a conduit for exploring the complexities of life; a range of emotions, offering a sense of control amidst chaos. It is the visual embodiment of a woman's journey— vocal, vulnerable, raw, unfiltered, and unapologetic, existing not for the approval of others but as a personal testament to resilience and self-discovery.

Each piece is a chapter of a story, my story– depictions of beliefs and experiences, the things I love and those that hurt me– and none are so poignant alone as they are alongside the pieces they stemmed from. While artistic expression may not be everyone's chosen path, it can spark new inquiries and revelations. For me, art is empowerment, and empowerment can indeed be art. Sharing inspiration is among humanity's greatest gifts, and I am committed to continuing my artistic journey, expressing my truths without expectation. If that is all that I can do until the end of my days, I will consider my life well-lived.

Nivedita Saha


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