We've decided to take the "extra time" available now that we are social distancing, and not popping up across the country, to share stories. Stories are how people learn best, in my opinion. I see it happen every time I hold a jewelry making class and share the stories of the various beads from across the globe. When we closed down our physical store, we received a lot of concerned messages about not being available as a resource that people could learn from in Noblesville. We did listen and we are working to share as many stories as possible online. So, the first person we interviewed is an artist whose work we've followed for years via Instagram and her name is Jasvir Panesar.
LHo Team: How did you end up on this journey? Were there teachers, parental figures etc that endured you had access to the arts?
Jasvir: My mum is an artist, and I guess she passed it on to me..
I did O’level art (GCSE) I never took it seriously, the art teacher always threatened to throw me out of the window... because she knew I had potential, however being a teenager I had other things on my mind. I got an A in art without really trying.
I didn’t go to an art school or take my art any further because I had a lot going on personally, so I hate to admit but I wasted that time of my career life. I gave up art all together. I guess it was only after I had my daughter, I was home a lot and decided to pass my time painting, that’s when I started getting orders for portraits from my friends and family. Some paid and most wanted a freebie. I was approached by many people wanting my art for their projects or business ventures. I was naive and excited that my art would be showcased. Little did I know it was just a way to get my art for free. I have learnt a lot since and now I’m very cautious of how I let anyone use my artwork.
LHo Team: What places on earth do you call home?
Jasvir: I was born in London, UK, When I was three years old my parents decided to move back to Kenya. I grew up in Nairobi, returned to London when I was 22. Currently London is my home, but Kenya will always be my first home.
I love America. It's one of my homes, A lot of times though, living in America feels like having to "choose sides" because identity here is so race oriented. You can't just wake up in America when you are a minority. I can say that because it's a load I realize I'm lifting specifically as I prepare to travel back to various African nations with our customers. Once we are at the airport and especially when we are flying via an African airline, I feel my body relax and put the weight of my color, hair and accent down. It's not like the other parts of Africa I lived in. When you are a minority and you wake up in America, especially when people are not social distancing and sheltering in place, every morning feels like waking up, remembering you have color (or difference) to you and figuring out how to appropriately carry your color (difference) in an acceptable manner in between everything else you have to do that day. Yes, it's a daily thing just like brushing your teeth or taking a bath. For those of us at LHo who were not born or raised here, it feels like having to walk around with a load on your head and shoulders that no one else can sees you are carrying. Sometimes, you think you are safe because you are still in your neighbourhood until the neighbour's child sees you eating fruit and comments out loud about you being a monkey to his friends (loud enough for you to hear) when all you were doing was trying to get your vitamins for the day. Sharing some of these experiences became very important to me because I have a lot of treasured customers who come and discuss race, justice, global culture, women's rights, the struggles that their adopted children, who might be of another race, face with me. I have been invited to dinners where we had to discuss immigration because they felt I was the person they could safely have a conversation with in a manner that birth growth. I am grateful for everyone who trusts me enough to want to discuss these issues and grow from these discussions. I however noticed that not sharing my experiences or the experiences and voices of others was almost a robbery in a way. A lot of the people who gravitate to our organization want a better world. They want to be part of building that better world and they want their children and grandchildren to be part of that as well. For that reconciliation to take place, our truth has to be shared so there can be awareness and from that hopefully, healing. We specifically wanted to know what inspires Jasvir because she creates outside racial lines. Sharing her story is our way of sharing "another existence" or a world where color isn't always such a source for turmoil. I have shared with LHo Team members that I didn't know I had color until I got here in 2004. I learnt it in under two weeks of arriving in America. I cried so hard that day and vow I was going to work as hard as I could to never allow anyone to box me because I had "color to me". Jasvir represents The Old World I lived in. The one where we celebrated difference through acculturation and enculturation. The Old World where we tried to grow from difference instead of look for ways to shame or automatically judge others for not being like us.
LHo Team: What inspires you?
Jasvir: I love colour, I’m mostly inspired when I’m around colour of any nature, be it skin, nature, wildlife or even jewellery (especially African jewellery) because it is so colourful and vibrant. I love watching other artists create, that really inspires me. I’ll be honest I’m quite a lazy girl but when I have an art idea I forget to eat!
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I love to paint various African skin tones.LHo Team: What advise would you give emerging artists that are discovering their process and path?
Jasvir: Be patient with the process. Experiment every time you have the opportunity. Learn from other artists. Watch YouTube videos. Create everyday. Have fun with art. Keep going and never give up!
LHo Team: Why does your art cover and cross various racial, cultural and/ or religious lines?
Jasvir: Because I grew up in Kenya, around so much culture and diversity. I was mesmerized by the colours of the Maasai Culture. I have every necklace, bracelet and bag from the Maasai Market (bags full)!! I love to paint various African skin tones.
LHo Team: So what is the most expensive piece you’ve ever sold. Tell us about it and what was it? Do you have images of it?
Jasvir: I did a portrait of a couple married for 40 years a few years ago. I sold that for £250 as it was a very large painting and needed a lot of detail. I don’t have an image of it unfortunately.
LHo Team: Okay, what about your most beloved piece of art? Why is it precious to you?
Jasvir: It’s one I did recently of an African woman. It was an experiment, I was trying out a fluid art technique with a glue gun and the portrait on top. It turned out so beautiful and has over 80, 000 views on YouTube.
LHo Team: Who would you like to work with art wise and/ or create a piece of art for?
Jasvir: I don’t really know of any particular artist, but I always dream of seeing my work on the international catwalk someday. May be Gucci might come across my work someday... I can dream... :)
LHo Team: Where can people buy your art? Do you offer virtual art lessons?
Jasvir: I don’t have a website yet, but people can check out my Facebook or Instagram page..contact me if they like anything. I also have a YouTube Channel where you can watch the process to most of my paintings.
LHo Team: Is there anything else you would like anyone that bumps into our blog to know?
Jasvir: I’m a self taught artist and I learn more everyday. I create art that makes me happy and is full of colour. I’m a rebel, very moody but extremely friendly. Hit me up!!
Supporting indie is not hard and doesn't always have to involve you spending money (especially if you are not in a position to do so). You can support indie businesses and artists by liking posts or letting your contacts know about various artists you might have bumped into while doing life, in case your contacts do want to shop. Please follow Jasvir on Instagram or subscribe to her YouTube channel. That's a way of supporting her too. Below is the video from Jasvir that got 80,000 views, a playlist from our intern Shem and some of our latest designs on Shoptiques that hail from Maasai Market or have beads that were sourced from there. If you would like to commission a piece from Jasvir, get in touch. She is all types of awesome!!! We'll put up another post once her work in available within the US.
We wish you good vibes, peace, love and a great weekend!!
Hugs and kisses
The LHo Team.
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