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Blue to Cream Gradient

Why Does One Turn To Art? And When Does One Turn Into it?

Art, only three letters and yet, so ambiguous it could mean anything you wanted it to, and it could also mean the absences of all those things. It is present, even when nothing else is. Art doesn’t exist only to be viewed, it’s purpose isn’t for it just to be looked at. Much like pieces of art, we stand alone in this world of an art gallery. Each of us, born as blank canvases, and as the years go by, layers and layers of colour engulf us. Some of us are minimalist pieces, sure of what is black and white, others are a celebration of colour, and some of us, are still figuring it out. Art became a metaphor for my life. I realised that everyone turns to art in different forms, it’s the form of greater power that even atheists can’t deny. Some are drawn to its music, some to its colours, some to its flavours and its many other forms. But why was I drawn to the mysterious, enticing, creative force?

My story began before I was even born, it starts with my mother, who had a baby before she had learned to love its father, like countless other arranged marriages.

It takes nine months for a child to be fully formed in its mother’s womb, however during those nine months it isn’t only the child that is being formed, it is also the mother’s expectations of how her child will be. The mother spends every one of those three trimesters wondering how her tiny baby, will grow up to look like, what kind of a person will that baby be, who will that baby be?

When a new mother is surprised by what her baby looks like, when she cannot believe that it is her baby, when she wonders what she did wrong to make the baby look like that, her hopes dreams and expectations, that she’s carefully built up over the course of nine months, come crashing down.

Yes, I had ten fingers and ten toes. Yes, I was breathing just fine and my heart was pumping rhythmically. Yes, I weighed exactly how much I was supposed to. But I was not what my mother expected, because no mother expects her child to be born with its entire right side being brown. No mother expects her child to look so different from herself.

In the first twelve days of my birth, my mother cried every night and blamed herself for something that was beyond her control and understanding. She was young and a new mother and she did not understand why, and thus began her journey of acceptance.

Growing up in a very moderated and controlled environment, I didn’t realise that I was different until I was almost nine. Of course, I had the occasional person ask me what was on my neck and my introverted self would hide behind my mother’s dupatta while she told them it was a birthmark. I heard all sorts of stories about how it happened and why it happened, my most favourite being that while I was being crafted, the almighty artist above, God, accidentally dropped his tea on me.

I always felt out of place in my body, I felt like a stranger in my own skin and mind, my body was always too big or too small. My whole childhood had a deep-rooted sense that I didn’t belong. I didn’t belong in Mumbai because in my whole fourteen years of living I haven’t seen another person in Mumbai who has the same type of birthmark as I did, I didn’t belong in school because people gave me a wide berth lest I touch them and they get black spots all over themselves, I didn’t belong at home because even though I looked exactly like my mother she took me every six months to get checked at the skin doctor, just to make sure everything was normal, and I didn’t even belong in my own skin because I felt so detached and there is nothing I wanted to get rid of more.

As an insecure young adult, I found my safe haven in art. It was one medium where I could express the way that I felt about myself, about our society, about the world. The thing about art is that everyone's art is different, so wildly different and in that difference I found myself rejoicing because for once I fit in. I was different but so was everyone else. It took me a long while to understand that like everyone's art, everyone's body is also wildly different.

The essence of each and piece of art is common, and that is, that it is different. This can be rebutted by Andy Warhol, but in my defence, he did what he did, to be different. Once I began looking at myself as a piece of art, it became less easy to point at my shortcomings.

Who would go up to the Mona Lisa and point our her flaws? Who decides what art is beautiful? What if they’re wrong?

There is no such thing as freedom and yet freedom is what every living being fundamentally longs for. Freedom cannot be fought for, it cannot be won and it certainly cannot be curtailed because you are only as free as you want to be. The human brain is what prevents us to do most things. We create the boundaries we struggle under, we make the laws that pacify us, we make the society that we hate so much. Even the freest man is a prisoner in his own mind until he accepts the fact that he will never be free.

And yet, I have never felt freedom like I’ve felt with paint dripping down my fingers.

The body that I was once so eager to hide, became something I'm proud of, and I wanted to scream that from rooftops, it became a vessel of creation.

Most people are born with a clean slate, a blank canvas to paint with the colours that they choose and their life becomes a journey of creation. I was born with my canvas painted on, the art on my body becoming a symbol of the art that I would create, and my life is a journey of acceptance.

Art became my reason, what’s yours?

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