I’m often asked “What are you?” The answer they are often looking for is a quick one-word description. I feel like a vessel for a creative energy that flows through me. It’s an energy I’ve learned to trust and not resist. I see potential in every material, object or space I see. How that expresses is greatly varied and that has been a challenge in defining my art. Am I an architect, a painter, a carpenter, a leather worker, a flower maker, designer, craftsman? The world would prefer I pick one (or two max) but the energy that flows through me is all of those things. The common denominator is not the final product but the vigor with which I approach any project. It is a discovery.
I grew up in India in a conflict zone on the Pakistani border. Life was about survival. There were no playgrounds, no public parks, no toys. Art was considered frivolous.
As a child, I lived in a one-room house with no windows. I was driven to make it a “home” by decorating it with any materials I could find from shoe polish lids, barbed wire, tires, paper, etc. The approach that grew out of this was that “everything is enough.” I developed an ability to see the potential in any material and see how I could make it into something greater than it’s parts.
Where most might ask the question ‘Where do I find it?’ I was driven to ask “How do I make it?” If I wanted something – I needed to design it, source it and create it myself with materials I could find around myself and whatever makeshift tools I could muster.
I was a sponge for knowledge. I ferociously observed a local 90-year old cobbler under the banyan tree on my way to school each morning, learning the craft. I read every book I could get my hands on.
My original tools where kitchen forks and made of out of construction wire. Ground flower seeds were my paint, my paint brushes were made from miswak (a local tree) twigs that my grandfather taught me how to use.
I once saw someone make a clay pot on tv. I had to do the same. I did not know they used clay but I had Plaster of Paris and thought I could make a pot out of that. I had no spinning wheel so I found an old bike, put it on its side and then took a board I found and cut it painstakingly with a kitchen knife to create the platform. I then paid my cousin with my pocket money to spin the wheel of the bike so I could make a pot. Surprisingly I actually was able to make a pot out of Plaster of Paris. Once I had a true spinning wheel and clay I was in heaven.
I graduated from the School of Architecture and Landscape Design, Jammu and Kashmir, India where I won 21 awards on national and international levels. I was selected as the “residence NEXT” international student participant as the sole representative from Jammu and Kashmir. I worked closely with Rafiq Azam and directly with Prof. Jon T Lang along with Kevin Mark Low.
Later I was offered full scholarships to both The New School at Parsons School of Design and the Rhode Island School of Design. I enrolled in the Interior Design Masters program at Parsons. Despite this, I am, for the most part, self taught.
Most recently, I was featured in the New York Times’ Style Magazine’s “T Presents” in which I had 1 hour to complete a piece of art made from that day’s New York Times.
I was commissioned to create 300 tiny paper daisy from which she had her team create her Met Gala dress from.
Lake George Museum Exhibit
Two week exhibit of paper flowers at the museum to bring awareness to the treat of climate change.
Currently working on recreating the Hamptons garden of Brian Sawyer in paper flowers.
Designed booth and cloud lighting fixture (see homepage image) for DIFFA in collaboration with Tucker Robins Studio and Walker Ridge.
Luxury Apartment Building Lobby
Commissioned to create an installation for the lobby.
I was hired by CARE International to work with PASSA (Participatory Approach for Safe Shelter Awareness) in Nepal as part of earthquake relief program after the big earthquake of 2015 where I worked on building sustainable, earthquake-resistant housing. Additionally, I explored using materials from the earthquake to create art.
I served as the lead architect for the construction of a luxury hotel in Dhararmshala, Himachu Pradesh, India.
I lived in Auroville for a year working with Auroville Earth Institute (UNESCO Chair Earthen Architecture). One of the projects that I worked on was the redesigning and complete hands-on building of “Bamboo and Earth House” which was demountable so that it could be relocated if needed.