Artistic impressions of a married woman

Expat speak

Artistic impressions  of a married woman

Eight years ago, she set her foot on Indian soil as a traditional Sikh bride to embark upon a new journey. Since then, life has changed for good for contemporary artist Tanya Gill, whom Metrolife met at the recently concluded India Art Fair, where she was showcasing her designs at the Gallery Ragini art booth.

“I knew I was taking a huge leap,” confesses Tanya who was not any expat coming to India to settle but a young girl who was getting married in a new country. “I met my husband at a New Year party in Chicago and we fell in love. The next thing was to get married and since he is an Indian, we chose to marry in India, in a traditional Sikh ceremony. It was quite an experience with just seven representatives from my family and 400 from his side at the wedding!”

Her memories go back to the time when Delhi was very very different and often disrupted by her five-year old son, who persistently asks her to see a cat. “We (Tanya and her husband) have been in India for over a year now and since my son has turned five, I can now focus on my work.” But, in the initial years it was quite a task for her to handle everything. “I got a lot of support from both my mothers – my mom and mom-in-law,” she sighs, “Even if they do not fully understand what I do all the time!"

Settled on the personal front, Tanya’s creative streak has been in the news for her mastery in the age-old art of paper cutting. She is a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Researcher in Delhi and her research focuses on the intersection of Indian contemporary art and handicrafts. “I see more foreign artists in India than there were earlier which shows that India has been very welcoming to international talent. But one aspect of young Indian artists that I find most striking is their expectation to start earning the minute they graduate from their educational institute! This is something that a young US national wouldn't anticipate because you need to have a job, even if it is part time, to earn a living.”

“Sadly all the Indian craftspeople I have spoken with, have stories of disrespect to share,” says Tanya whose research shows that the Indian artists find it tough to be accepted by people in general. “I have met crafts people encouraging children to venture into other fields since they did not get their due respect. I think this respect for master craftsmen needs to be inculcated at the school level itself.”

Her findings and feelings are worth making a note of. Every time she comes back to Delhi (after a short stints abroad) Tanya feels that the City has changed. “You can see people holding hands and displaying affection on streets which shows that the culture is opening up now. It is not the City that it used to be eight years back.”

As she plans to go back this summer to meet her family in US, Tanya confesses that she will surely miss the “sabziwalas and milkman coming to my home!” she laughs aloud and bids goodbye while holding her son’s hand, finally lending him an ear for his cat.

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