Art is an expression of emotions and speaks volumes about the person who created it. Today, I, Poonam Sinha from SheAtWork have the privilege of interacting with one such artist, Priti Karn, who believes that the first step to controlling your world is to keep your culture unharmed. Through her paintings, she, models and demonstrates the kind of world she demands to live in. In Priti’s family, Madhubani is a family heritage that’s been passed down the generations; her skills were honed by her Guru and Grandmother, Padma Shri Shilp Guru, Smt. Godawari Dutta.
Quote – Madhubani art is a conventional folk art that is still thriving….and so it shall be
Ques 1. What drew you towards traditional folk art? Who or what has been your inspiration?
Padma Shri recipient Smt. Godawari Dutta, is my grandmother and so I can rightly say that art was embedded in my DNA! As a child, I became interested in the Madhubani art form and I hardly realised when this interest turned into my passion. My grandmother inspired me to perfect my skills and I left no stone unturned to express and connect with people through my art.
Ques 2. How do you market your work and what challenges do you face in the process?
I put up my art pieces for sale in my workplace and also through exhibitions. Although I believe in ‘art for art’s sake’, the commercial aspect is important too. Getting a place perfect for an art exhibition and then advertising it, are indeed a difficult task. I put up exhibitions two- three times in a year and I go through this challenge every time. Fortunately, now, technology has become an enabler of many difficult tasks, so we have decided to market our pieces online as well.
Ques 3. What according to you, is the role of an artist in society and how do you fulfill the same?
I believe that the artist indeed has the lofty role of pushing out dominant narratives in the society. Art is an effort to create, beside the real world, a more humane world and artists can shoulder this responsibility well. Sometimes art can speak out loud what humans may not be able to voice for various reasons. Also, art can be a great way to keep people updated. For example, I have painted pieces about the pandemic and its effects and have also addressed the Russia-Ukraine war in some pieces.
Ques 4. What would you advise other women who wish to take up art as a source of career
I believe that every calling is great when greatly pursued! So, if you are passionate about art, art be it! During the pandemic, I have had the good fortune of teaching the Madhubani art style to 500 aspiring artists online. I think, the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. So, model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. So go ahead and write the books, make music, shoot films, paint art……..
However, be patient as the commercial fulfilment through art trickles in gradually.
Ques 5. What are your future plans?
I plan to go on teaching the art of Madhubani paintings to many more aspiring artists in the future. My aim would be to help them grow, both, personally as well as professionally. Interestingly, even the gender barrier has collapsed today and we can see quite a few male artists practicing Madhubani style painting. I am already a State Government (Bihar) awardee, and I aspire to win a National Award someday by contributing to the society through my art.