We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashna Malik and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashna, what role has risk played in your life or career?
My entire career started off as a risk. I’m from India, where creative careers aren’t as encouraged as academic ones and here I was opting to go for the absolute opposite end of the spectrum and become a fine artist. The first person I told about this decision was my then art teacher, in high school, who after hearing this spent the next hour telling me how I didn’t have the drive, the passion, or the talent to take this route and that I should consider doing something else. I was absolutely beaten down but I knew that only I was had the knowledge of what I was capable of and I could not let someone else’s words shake that faith. My unconventional career path raised a lot of questions from relatives, friends, and strangers. Though my parents were supportive they also had questions about making money, getting a job, future possibilities, etc. But I took the first and biggest risk of my career and decided to move to the US to earn my BFA in Fine Arts.
Since then almost every day feels like a small risk, not knowing when your next painting is going to sell or questioning what you’re making. Since art is so subjective and art-making is such an isolating activity, I am always posed with the question of, if what I’m making is any good. But each day I continue to take that risk, walk into my studio and continue creating.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a multidisciplinary artist who uses a combination of traditional and digital media to investigate ideas of perception, distortion, immersion, and experience. I have exhibited my work and am included in private collections in the United States, France, and India.
Through paintings and interactive projections, I aim to have the viewer question their limited perception and understanding of reality through stimulating visuals. Using a combination of digital and traditional media, I push boundaries and provide the viewer with an encapsulating experience. Dynamic lines and vibrant colors create movement and distortion through optical play challenging the viewer’s perception of what they see and understand.
We are all creating a perception of the outer world. We use our thoughts, feelings, and actions to create a world that we perceive to be real through our senses. Our perception creates our reality, but our perception is limited. We form our perception based on our senses and our senses are limited. We can’t see beyond the room we are sitting in, but does that mean there is nothing outside of it? We can’t hear beyond what we are right now, but does that mean somewhere in the world there isn’t a horn blaring on a busy street? Since our senses are limited so is our perception and so is our reality. My work aims to make the viewers question what they’re seeing and in turn make them question their reality.
It has not been an easy ride reaching to the point I am right now. As an artist, there is truckloads of self-doubt that I have to deal with every day, from works getting ruined while creating them, to not having enough work, to not knowing whether the work is good enough, to worrying about not selling any work, to uneasiness about your career not progressing. The self-doubt comes in all shapes, sizes and intensities. What has always helped me move past these doubts has been my spiritual journey. One of the main qualities I have noticed in myself since I started on my spiritual path has been faith. Faith in myself and faith in the universe. This faith gives me in confidence in myself, it helps me follow my heart’s voice and go after what I want and continue to push forward without being swayed by the self-doubts, self-judgments or even doubt and judgments of others. This faith gives me confidence in that everything happening around me and in my life is happening for the best. This faith helps me overcome the challenges I face every day.
Despite all the challenges and self-doubts, I have had so many moments to be grateful and proud of. I have sold 95% of the work I have ever created, I have been a featured artist in SCAD’s group show, I was chosen as a panelist for Interface’s first online event. My work has been printed on a bus that now drives through Savannah, GA. My work has been licensed as a print for face masks and I have been featured in several publications including Savannah Magazine. My work is a part of Savannah College of Art and designs a permanent collection. And so much more! Always grateful for all the amazing opportunities that come my way.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My biggest shout out goes to my guide Maitreya Dadashreeji, who has always encouraged me to follow my passion and has given me the courage to do so. My parents who have been unconditionally supportive of my dream and passion.
And the community at Savannah College of Art and Design who work so hard to support and build up their artists.