Ever since I have been a young girl, being forced to ‘try out’ hobbies by extremely culturally-oriented Bengali parents, I have had a certain amount of respect for creators. I am saying creators instead of artists because at times I forget that even a dancer is an artist, and so is a singer, an actor, a writer etc.
But sometimes I become extremely awestruck by people who paint and create art on paper. For example, Sunga Park and her portrait skills, or my cousin Pallavi who is also behind the beautiful (and now slightly faded) tattoo of a dancing girl with a peacock feather that I have on my leg. Somehow they create magical things – beautifully symmetrical and colourful and extremely expressive as well. So when I saw Elle’s Art Gallery on a post in Bored Panda, I really wanted to know more about her. And what better way to do it than ask random questions .
Michelle Aruna Dindayal (did you also go into a flashback mode and think of Bollywood movies with that name?) is a Trinidadian of East Indian Decent. An artist, photographer and graphic designer, the 26-year old has never been trained in art formally. But I guess the lineage helps, considering both her parents are artists. Michelle, or Elle, draws only abstract, mostly black and white – anything that her heart chooses to lead her hand. She also does tribal t shirt and tattoo designs, recently started doing a floral wall mural with Stablio markers.
And what do you know, she isn’t that different from us either. Here’s what she said, “While growing up I was faced with a lot judgment, control and opinions of society. My way of thinking, dressing and doing things were not within the “norms”. I was pushed and shoved by closed minded adults telling me what I should do and what I wanted to do, was not the best for me. The typical lifeline of an Indian girl – go to school, get an education, work, get married, have children… be happy. Art was never something anyone took seriously, or seen as a way of expression and especially as a source of income, but something that other people do, painters… foreigners. If I had bowed to their commands, I would have been a nurse, married – with some kids…and I’m pretty sure, very unhappy.”
Michelle started drawing at 6, when she went against the unspoken class rule and used up a borrowed colour pencil to bring life to a painting. But doodling happened only at 11 and continued till she got a job. With work, art faded away – as it does for most of us. But then a friend’s (very) timely advice got her to consider graphic designing – moving away from the agricultural studies she had done before that.
“I am happy I took this path. The peace and joy it gives me, firstly. Drawing/art would never be seen as a money making venture to me. It comes too naturally and helps me cope by means of expression, through all the rainbow of emotions. The love and support I get from others is but an added piece motivation for me. Do what you love and love what you do.”
She says her favourite part is – uhm – the beginning and after the end. “The beginning starts off pretty subtle, through a thought or experience, something I’ve witnessed or going through… then it builds, multiplies till I’m overwhelmed to the point of execution… putting it all to paper. After the ending – when every time I look at the finished piece, I see and feel something different each and every time.”
Michelle is not traditional but she does get inspired by her culture while creating art. Her tradition and lineage has had a great impact on her choice of designs/drawings (Hinduism, Architectures, Clothing, etc.) In San Fernando –her hometown and a bustling city – many creeds, cultures and every wonderful thing that goes with it – she finds inspiration – the music, celebrations, even food.
“Guess I see the beauty in them all. I’m inspired by many things; nature, memories, dreams, fantasy, etc. My drawings are emotionally driven based on experiences of every aspect of Life and it’s many ups and downs, but I find that I draw best when I’m filled with extreme sorrow.”
While it can take anything between a few days to several months for her to finish a particular piece of work, Elle feels great about the way people react to her work.