This much is true. This article, I’m told is about me. And all the success and love I have found by being me. But what’s ironic is that perhaps the realization that brought all of it to me was ‘I am You’.
I am You. I see myself in everything that shimmers, every whispered love song, every flower that gently finds its way to the ground. I travel in gardens and bedrooms,around corners, through doorways, up stairs, in the sky, with friends, lovers, children and heroes; perceived, remembered, imagined.
For all my growing up years, my angsty teens, I tried to separate myself from you. I said I was a rebel, robed in black, scribbling poetry into my skin while watching raindrops from a distance.
I said I was not you. Cut you off. Broke you down until ‘I’ broke down and then something changed.
The old poet Kabir said
‘The Redness of my Beloved is such,
I went out in search of Red, and became Red myself‘
and this is how it happened.
I was brought up primarily by my mother, also an artist. And so our relationship was set in pigment and pixel. Perhaps the greatest realization for both of us has been that Art and Illustration and the creation of beautiful things wasn’t a process that cuts people off, but brings people in. ‘I am you’.
I am not the ‘You’ that chose a road well traversed, I am not the ‘You’ that didn’t stand up for beliefs, I am not the ‘You’ that chose corporate jobs and black suits. I am the ‘You’ that fell in love, the ‘You’ that remembers and lives the innocence of childhood, the ‘You’ that dreams and believes that these dreams can be transformed into a reality. The child, the dreamer, the mother, the goddess, the lover and in all these manifestations we are one. Cyclic and Moon-drawn.
I started travelling when I was 16, perhaps more fearless then than I am now, and on those countless train journeys sitting by the door of the train I learnt (and keep learning) that perhaps the most important thing is to trust. Trust that you are protected, trust in your own strength, trust that this strength will guide you, that your feet (adorned with anklets and colour) are strong and will not slip, and trust enough to “Let the Beauty of What you Love be what you Do”.
Trust those doodles, those songs hummed in the shower, that poetry scribbled onto your skin, all the drama, because it’s in those that one’s love sometimes lies, in those doodles an artists, that humming a singer, a poet and an actor.
And dreams do come true, here below is a talk I gave at the INK conference that came out on TED.com about such dreams, childhood secrets and rituals. And now almost 300,000 views later, I can tell you: Dreams do come true.
Shilo Shiv Suleman is an Indian illustrator, animator and visual artist based in the city of Bangalore. Her primary area of interest is visual storytelling through multiple mediums. She illustrated her first book for children at the age of 16 and has illustrated and published 8 others since with some of the most well known publishing houses in India. She has also been actively involved in setting up community art projects and collectives that get people to appreciate and create street art in their surroundings as well as use art and design to bring socially relevant issues in India to the forefront.
Earlier this year, at only 22 years of age, she was chosen by TED and Levi’s as an ambassador of the ‘Shape of Things to Come’ – one of three Indian women to be felicitated with this honour at the TED Global Conference 2011, Edinburgh. In 2010 she was selected for an INK fellowship for her work as a young innovator in her field and now continues her work with the community as their Featured Artist of the Year. She was also one of the youngest speakers at the WIRED UK conference and at DLD 2012 in Munich.
She recently launched a series of interactive fantasy narratives for children on the iPad called Khoya, an experiment with the links between magic, earth and technology as well as the potential that touch has as a new integral part of storytelling. It attempts to use new and mobile technologies like Augmented Reality and the iPad to bring out the fantasy in an Indian contemporary story and create interactions that make you actively seek out natural environments. Khoya has been showcased even before it’s completion to Steve Wozniak in Bangalore and presented at Wired UK and the INK conference.
Samples of her work are available at www.shiloshivsuleman.com
or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org