In Conversation> Kavita Arvind/Chidiya Udd

31Jul08

*An Indian By Design Exclusive*
I first saw her poring over sketches and doodles and drawings and a half-finished series of Cats on Chairs. She was so childlike in her enthusiasm, in her curiosity for feedback. Her art, much like her, is simple, genuine and rooted. In conversation with Kavita Arvind, artist, NID faculty and founder of Chidiya Udd. She creates art ranging from childrens’ literature, gender and social communication to commissioned works for individuals, NGO’s and other organizations.

Birds, Poster colours on paper. 8" by 5.5"

Indian By Design: When did you think, ‘Oh, Chidiya Udd!’

Kavita: I have been running the usual rut for a while now but never quite felt complete. The closest I came to being in love with my work was when I was teaching at NID. But when you teach full time, you rarely ever get the time and mind space to do your own work. I was itching to work with my hands. I had joined a research company after moving to Bangalore which I quit in 3 weeks! I have entire notebooks full of drawings and scribbles from all my official meetings at work! I realised by stepping away from what I really wanted to do, what it was that I really did want to do. I rummaged through my cupboard and dug out some old forgotten crayons and sketchbooks and so began ‘Chidiya Udd‘! The name, by the way is Shami, my husband’s idea.

Illustration. Mahila Samakhya Gujarat. Diary for field workers condemning female foeticide.

Illustration. Mahila Samakhya Gujarat. Diary for field workers condemning female foeticide.

Indian By Design: What do you wish people would take out from your work?
Kavita: A lot of my work is about the spirit of freedom from the point of view of a little girl. I strongly identify with her! I don’t want to use big words like the ‘girl child’ here. But in a way my work will always be a tribute to this little girl. My work is simple. It is joyful. I look to paint about small things, moments, memories of childhood. It is so wonderful to be here, in the moment and that’s about all that I want people to cull from my work.

Bicycle Sunday, Poster colours on paper. 11" by 8"

Bicycle Sunday, Poster colours on paper. 11" by 8"

Indian By Design: Is Meera a bit like you?
Kavita: I want to be like Meera. I want to see wonder and colours and be joyful like Meera. I see her so clearly. She features in most of my work. I have been toying with the idea of giving her a space of her own in a cartoon strip… but then again, I’d rather that she be a little elusive.

Sisters, Mixed media on handmade paper. 11" by 16"

Sisters, Mixed media on handmade paper. 11" by 16"

Indian By Design: What is the world that your characters live in? Is it today or is a place far removed in your imagination?
Kavita: It is equal parts of this and equal parts of the other. I would describe the place as that fuzzy time between dreaming and waking. Having said that, all my characters are very earthy, real and you could actually bump into them on the street.

Cats On Chairs, Mixed media on paper. 8" by 11"

Cats On Chairs, Mixed media on paper. 8" by 11"

Indian By Design: Are you planning to exhibit your work?
Kavita: I am hoping to exhibit my work by end of this year. I need to get around to meeting with people, galleries, art collectors. To be honest, I am a bit daunted by all this. But it will happen soon.

Glade Of Sunny Pinks, Acrylic on canvas. 24" by 30"

Glade Of Sunny Pinks, Acrylic on canvas. 24" by 30"

Indian By Design: Since you teach, and often don the critic hat, do you stop yourself from being over critical of your own work?
Kavita: I paint and re-paint until intuitively I know it is done. Because I am so critical about work and as a faculty, constantly giving feedback, assessing, guiding… when I paint I let intuition take over. And it is refreshing.

Tree Of Life, Poster colours on handmade paper. 8" by 11"

Tree Of Life, Poster colours on handmade paper. 8" by 11"

Indian By Design: On NID and your thoughts on what course it should be taking in the future.
Kavita: Having spent 9 years at the National Institute of Design, 5 as a student and then 4 as a member of faculty, the ethos of the place sort of courses in my veins. This is the place where I and my peers discovered who we were, and where we wanted to go. I strongly believe that NID should not diversify to branches. It should reduce the intake of students and bring on more faculty on board!

Indian By Design: What do you think is a quality every artist must possess?
Kavita: It has to be honesty.

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5 Responses to “In Conversation> Kavita Arvind/Chidiya Udd”

  1. Its so great to read Kavita’s interview here…and of course to see her work!

  2. 2 Priya Zachariah

    Hi!
    After seeing your illustrations and drawings, I became more interested and found your blog. I’m so inspired by them. I own a craft gallery in Copenhagen, Denmark but have just started the business. Since you are based in Bangalore, and I have lived there before, I thought of contacting you. Would you be interested in collaborating with me on some designs to showcase your work?
    Let me know if you have any other blogs, website, etc.
    Rgds Priya

  3. Hi
    I recently read the new Ruskin Bond, and thought the illustrations were amazing. And then came upon this blog by chance while rambling on the net.. lovely!

  4. Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!


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