The Kalaakriti series aims to highlight the stories of different artists with South Asian backgrounds. In today’s installation, check out Neha’s story about her work as a Fiber Artist!
About Puravi: I'm essentially a full-time Psychology student with an immense passion for desi fusion aesthetics. My aim is to increase the brand awareness of desi fusion by 1) re-using and upscaling existing (western and ethnic) clothes and accessories by styling them unconventionally and 2) breaking South Asian stereotypes through visual creation.
Social Media: Instagram: @puravinath14
How were you introduced to your work?
I always loved adding small desi elements to my Western outfits (and vice versa)!
I remember two of my earliest casual fusion looks: I wore a button-down shirt with a lehenga, and a pair of oxidized Chandbali's with a beach outfit. With time, I got more comfortable with fusion and started wearing jhumka's with sweaters or western dresses to classes. Just like that, I started recognizing desi fusion as my personal style.
At what point in your life did you feel that following this passion was what you wanted to do?
During the pandemic lockdown I decided to put more time into my creative confidence. I publicly started posting pictures. I also realized that South Asian wear, textiles, and jewelry are quite inaccessible in the US and more-so in Grinnell, a small town in Iowa where I study. The lockdown marked a year and a half since I went home to India and got any South Asian clothes or jewelry. So, I was forced to find solutions with limited clothes and accessories. From this point on, desi fusion became more than fashion for me- it grew to be a general aesthetic.
What are some stereotypes that you have seen, heard, or experienced about your work or about someone like you, choosing to pursue work in this field? How did you handle these critiques/comments?
People have some very specific notions about content creators. Some say it's a waste of time, some categorize all content creators under the umbrella term-influencer. In reality, there are just many types of content creators who focus on different things. Unfortunately, some people just don't know that there are growing branches of creators, so they tend to oversee individual creativity. I try not to get discouraged by that. There are different audiences for different forms of creativity and creation. So, I try staying positive by remembering those who support and understand my work.
In the South Asian community (regardless of country of origin), there’s quite a stigma against people choosing careers that are “non-traditional.” When choosing to follow your passion here, what are or were some challenges you’ve had to face? How did you get through them and what helped you through the process? If you’re still going through it, what has been helping you so far?
I'm extremely fortunate to be surrounded by many, supportive people in my family and friends.
While this isn't my full-time career, one challenge is that not everyone understands what I do. They acknowledge that it is non-traditional, but they cannot classify it under any category they know so it might appear 'weird' to them. A second challenge surrounds the notion of what I should or 'should not wear publicly' when I'm depicting my own style. Additionally, I also like challenging South Asian stereotypes and cliches in my work. Some concepts include the ‘Sit Like a Girl’ campaign and androgynous fashion.
How is your identity affected by the work you do in this field?
My work is largely a reflection of my identity. It makes me incredibly happy when I can think of a good fusion combination in an outfit and/or in a concept or series. With regards to my roots, I feel like I have always been very connected to my South Asian roots, so I love being able to express it visually too.
What’s something you’d tell your younger self? What’s some key advice that you wish you had or wish you had heard? What’s something you wish you didn’t do?
I wish I started sooner. I really wish I started as soon as I could. Content creation is a process and one learns on the way. I wish someone told me that it involves a lot of ups and downs. It takes more time and energy than I ever imagined, but it's incredible when you actually see yourself getting better and learning! I also feel that it's important to be open to others; it has been amazing to meet other content creators on the way! I have made some great connections and friends and we encourage and help each other out.
What advice would you give to someone who's struggling to follow their passions due to various external pressures and/or personal pressures ? How would you guide them if they came to you for advice?
I have seen one or more of these situations come up for some content creators. I really understand that it can be extremely upsetting and difficult. I think there is always a place to start, with whatever feels comfortable. I would suggest to keep noting down ideas for later use, as and when they come to you. Ideas are extremely valuable!! I also suggest taking up small projects for yourself, it can help you create a path and even gain confidence with time 😊
What are some misconceptions about the type of work that you do that you feel the world should know about?
There is so much work that goes into each and every shoot!
Often, it takes days or even weeks to come up with a concept, including the plan for execution. I sometimes DIY the props or even make my own nose ring. Space and equipment is a big problem for shoots because I shoot in my dorm room.
Can you list 3-5 accounts/people that you think are worth knowing about in your field?