She was barely five-years-old when she first held a painting brush in her hand and then there was no looking back. Deepa Rai, a 38-year-old artist from Sikkim, a powerhouse of artistic talent: a painter, poet and a theatre artist, she is one of the few women painters from the State who has set her own benchmark.
She works as a Lower Division clerk in the State Energy and Power Department. A self-taught painter, she is mostly interested in nature and portrait paintings.
Her artworks reflect that she is a firm believer in the women-as-nature analogy. As nature nurtures humanity, women too nurture life. As such, a woman should not limit herself to the four corners of the house but spread her wings to explore possible opportunities.
Leading by example
She is also the President of the Oviya Art Circle formed in 2009, a forum which provides an able platform to young and aspiring artists. ‘We strongly felt that a culturally-rich state like Sikkim should have a group or an organization which could promote painters and artists. The idea developed into a concrete plan and with the help of painter friends like Sagar Subba, Dhiraj Pradhan and Diwakar Lamichaney, the group was registered,’ recounts Rai.
She is also encouraging female painters to be a part of the Oviya Art Circle and is hopeful that someday the painters in Sikkim will get their due recognition.
Her real journey though started in the year 2004 when Sikkim Kala Akademi organized an annual painting exhibition named ‘Brushstroke’. ‘The exhibition was an excellent platform for me as I met a lot of veteran painters from Sikkim as well as other states. I got an opportunity to learn so many new aspects of painting,’ says Rai.
Apart from painting, she also writes poems. Her literary works including a collection of poetry, a compilation of short stories, and articles have been published in different journals and books in India and Nepal. She has also published a collection of poetry titled ‘Deepa ko Bhram’ in 2006.
‘I also write scripts and plays for children’s programmes aired by All India Radio.’ For her talent and contribution to society in the form of painting and writing, she has been honoured with numerous awards. To name a few, the Kala Shree Puraskar by Nepali Sahitya Parishad was bestowed on her in 2012; she has also been felicitated by Sikkim Kalakar Sangh, Chinari Prakashan and many others.
Build an Art Infrastructure
However, she feels the state of Sikkim needs a good art gallery and an art school through which interested young minds could be nurtured in the art of painting.
‘My message to the upcoming painters would be not to get dithered by the challenges and problems that an upcoming artist faces. Instead, they should make full use of their creativity in the best form possible,’ stresses Deepa Rai.