Earlier this year, software designer Seema Hariharan, spotted a woman staring at her while travelling in a Mumbai local train. They struck up a conversation and Reva Pandit, an artist, showed her a sketch she’d made a few months ago that had a striking resemblance to Seema.
The sketch was of Goddess Kali, but the moment Seema saw it, she exclaimed – the woman in the sketch looked exactly like her!
Deciding to act on the coincidence and bring the sketch to life, they recreated Reva’s art, but this time, the sketch would be done on Seema’s face. The sketch was to be an interpretation of Goddess Kali, who was also known for being dark complexioned.
“All my life I’ve been ridiculed for being dark skinned. The fair skin obsession in India doubled my self esteem issues as a teenager and I was constantly discriminated against because of my dark skin. The word “kali” (a dark skinned girl) haunted me because it was the word used by most people to mock my skin colour. It reduced my identity to my skin colour and I’ve spent my whole life running away from this word,” Seema wrote in a Facebook post. The art project changed the definition of the word “kali” in Seema’s life, who says she now draws strength from it and the powerful goddess of creation, preservation and destruction.
It was not just an artistic endeavour, it was also a strong statement on the prevailing notions of beauty and colour.
Take a look at Reva’s process of recreating beautiful art on Seema’s face.
(All images courtesy – Seema Harindran)