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Fancy a little art appreciation this semester?
(Check out the latest interview of your fellow, on-campus artists!)
Although Namrata Roy is an engineering major, she finds time to pursue creative outlets ranging from drawing and watercolor to designing tattoos and henna. Originally from Bangladesh and currently living in the U.S., her background has given her a unique cross-cultural perspective for creating art. Together we discussed her beginnings and thoughts as an artist. Excerpts follow.
A: When did you become interested in art?
N: I started drawing in 10th grade, and I’ve drawn ever since. Back home, I never used to draw because my brother is a really good artist, and I never wanted to compete with him. When I came to the US, I would draw for people as gifts and I realized I was good at it. I picked up watercolor senior year of high school, and now I’ve spent two months teaching myself watercolor and doing portraits of dogs. My tattoo interest started when I was at the Upper School, doodling on my notebook in history class. Evan Eisenauer sat next to me and one day he said, “Hey, what if you drew on me,” so I started drawing on him every single day. He always gave me free range to draw whatever I wanted. I continued drawing on him daily and that’s how I took a serious interest in tattooing.
A: Can you describe the feeling you get when you give someone your gift?
N: I love it when it means something to them. It shows that I know what their favorite thing looks like – I know every single shadow and highlight on that object because I spent time observing what they value and cherish. Being able to present it to someone I love feels more thoughtful than just buying something on the internet. I think art is the best present you can give someone.
A: Do you have any particular inspirations?
N: I really love doing village scenes from Bangladesh – palm trees, cows, mud houses.
A: Do you think your family has supported your dabbling in art?
N: My parents don’t know that I draw – it’s just never been a topic of conversation. I came to the US sophomore year of high school and went to a school in Seattle. I was away from my parents then, so they never knew and I never brought it up. But it’s funny because at home no one knows me as an artist, but here it’s become such a big part of my identity.
A: Do you think art is treated differently back home versus here?
N: Yeah, because here everyone is encouraged to do everything, even if you’re not that good at it. But back home, art is taken very seriously. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it really well.
A: Are there any similarities in how art is treated?
N: I’ve only taken one art class in the U.S., and that was for a Gen. Ed. requirement. I did not enjoy it because I was bad at straight lines and perspective. If you ask me to draw a guitar, I can draw a guitar, but if you ask me to draw it with proportions, I would not be able to. It’s funny because numbers like that don’t make sense to me, and I’m an engineer; I can’t mix the two.
A: Have you found any connections between engineering and art?
N: I think my artistic view on things makes it easier to visualize what an object can be. I can see 2-D objects as 3-D in my head. I still struggle with it, and there’s more room to make mistakes, but I love making mistakes because then I can figure out how to cover them up. It’s much more fun and it makes it more interesting. I’m grateful that I’m not that good because it gives me so much more room to be better.
A: What does art mean to you?
N: I think art is a great outlet for creativity and demonstration of care for someone or something. When you’re drawing something, you totally internalize the concept. Over Christmas break, I drew a lot of pets. Whenever I saw one walking around, I focused on where every single shade or highlight was on it. It’s crazy because it’s like they’re a part of me now. Or if I draw a scene, I can recreate it again, because I’ve internalized it so much. Art becomes a part of you.
If you are an artist interested in being featured next issue, please contact the interviewer at Annelise.Suber@principia.edu