Nirmala Garimella 07/11/2012
Give us some background on your family – where you come from, interest in theater and the arts ? Were you always interested in painting ?
I grew up in city of Bhopal (MP - India)... My parents Prof Satish Mehta and Jyotsna Mehta have been doing theatre for over 40 years, and growing up in that environment automatically attracted me towards love of theatre. Early in my childhood after trying many different forms of arts i.e. kathak, vocal etc. me and my parents realized that art of drawing and painting is where I was able to express myself best. Some of my best work started from the age of 13. I always had the creative skills but did not realize it until late. Just like many children in India I wanted to do engineering just because that's what my brother was doing... I realized later that my heart was geared towards creative arts - so I joined Fine Arts after my Bachelors Degree in Mathematics and continued on to get a PhD in Fine Arts (Drawing & Painting)... I then came to US to pursue Masters degree in Multimedia and Web Design from Art Institute of Atlanta.
I got married to Hetal Joshi who studied at Bentley and is an IT professional. Just like me Hetal also is passionate about theatre. I moved to Boston area after getting married in 2003. I am fortunate to have a very supportive husband who has always been pushing me to continue with my passion of painting. I am blessed with 2 beautiful children Arth (son - 7 yrs) and Anaya (daughter - 4 yrs) and currently live in Lexington, MA.Apart from being involved in many Art related activities such as participating in Lexington Open Studios in 2011 and 2012, En Plaine Aire - live painting event in May 2012, exhibiting at Earth Day in Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts, Concord, MA - Me and Hetal have also acted in a bunch of plays with Hindi Manch.
When did you hold your first gallery and where and what was the response?
My first exhibition was in 1998 - India, where I exhibited series of paintings based on famous international plays such as “Three Sisters” - a Russian play by Anton Checkov, “Waiting for Godot” – an absurdist play by Samuel Beckett, “The Caucasian Chalk Circle - a play by the German modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht etc.in India.
I was overwhelmed with the response from the exhibition. Over 500 people visited the event and was one the best experience of my life. I was covered by all the media through the state of Madhya Pradesh.
How would you define your art?
I would define my style as abstract impressionism. I don't limit myself to just one style, I try to follow my heart... when i am close to nature - I love doing landscapes, when i am in a serious situation i tend to paint abstract and get my emotions out through colors. I like to use vibrant colors that are eye catching and make you feel energized and refreshed.
What inspires you ? Do you devote your full time to painting?
Early in my career i was inspired by Van Gogh. As I grew as an artist sources of inspiration changed to things happening around me, nature, my children etc. I try to experiment with different styles and forms. That is one of the reasons I still do pencil sketches, oil, acrylic and charcoal. My medium and art change depending on the day and circumstance.
I wish I could devote full time to painting. With 2 young children it is always difficult to find time that you can devote to painting. My daughter ensures that the paint is all over the house whenever i decide to take a chance to paint with her around :-). Anyways, jokes apart - I cant be fortunate enough to have children and family that help support finding time to do what I enjoy most... I manage to find some time to get the creative juices flowing...
Do you also teach ? Where do you teach and who are your students ?
Yes, after much persuasion from my friends and family, I started teaching students in the age group ranging from 4 to 18 years. My students come from Lexington and surrounding towns like Waltham, Winchester, Bedford, Chelmsford and even Nashua. It all started with a couple of my friends kids and now it has grown to something that has become my second job. The way things are going it may just become my full time job. We recently did an art show of my students art work at Munroe Center for the Arts which was a big hit. We had Judith Cooper a renowned Lexington artist visit as guest of honor to observe and encourage all the students. All my students’ art work was immensely appreciated by her and all the visitors.
I am blessed to have very talented bunch of students and am thankful to all the parents who trusted in my abilities to impart knowledge and share it with their children. I enjoy working with children as they are like free birds, they have imagination that us adults can seldom think of... I learn from every child as they bring a different outlook and dimension to even the simplest of things. I currently teach from my home as well as take some classes at Munroe Center for the Arts in Lexington. I am looking to set-up a permanent studio in Lexington area soon.
Tell us about the present exhibition – theme , why you chose it ?
My recent collection is based on the theme of "Indian Village". I was always fascinated with the simplicity and serenity of rural lifestyle whenever i visited villages as a child in India. It was always in my mind to someday get those lifestyles and habitats on canvas. Currently my work is on display at LexMedia Studio (Lexington Community Media Center) until mid-July.
What do you like to convey thru your art ? What does color mean to you ?
Any form of art gets you close to God and your own soul. I just like to express my emotions, feelings and my vision and view of the world through my art. Colors mean everything to me. Colors help me express myself best. I like to use vibrant colors as they best describe how I think and feel about everything around me. Life is short and I like to think that it should be filled with colors. Different colors help represent different emotions which is no different from what we go through in our life. Without all the colors life would be very dull and I refuse to live a dull life.
What are your other hobbies ?
As mentioned above apart from painting, I enjoy doing theatre. I also love cooking, as that is just another form of art that allows you to express and experiment with spices just as i do with colors. I try to create things that don't exist and experiment on my husband all the time. And just like other things he appreciates my cooking experiments which energizes me to experiment even more.