We had the good fortune of connecting with Seema Shakti and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Seema, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk means growth and development. Sharing your art and creative practice with the world takes a lot of courage because it’s such an intimate part of who you are. Showing my art to the public for the first time without knowing how it would be received was definitely risky! However, I experienced so much growth over the years because of this decision. Deciding to sell my art and paper goods in a cooperatively-run store is another risk that I recently took. Whatever the outcome of this current experience, I trust that I’ll build community and continue growing as both an artist and small business owner!
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’m a self-taught artist and my art practice is a ritual meditation sourced from the soul that visually honors the cosmos, divine feminine, and my ancestors. It’s unique because it celebrates the vibrancy of my heritage and uplifts the sacred feminine energy that exists within and all around us. My work is a mix of abstract drawings and illustrations of women of color who are centered in their truth and wholeheartedly own their power. Some motifs that you’ll observe in my work are third eyes and serpents, representing the window to our inner world and kundalini energy. Through my work, I seek to connect those who experience my art to their higher power.
I’m most proud of how much I’ve developed as an artist over the years. I began with abstract acrylic paintings and transitioned to watercolor illustrations. Over the past two years, I’ve been exploring the realm of digital art. There were many moments over the past 9+ years when I took a break from creating or from sharing my work. However, I always picked up from where I left off and continued creating again. So, it definitely wasn’t easy, but I was always led back to creating visual art. It’s my soul’s language and chosen form of expression.
There’s so much more to being an artist than meets the eye. A lesson I learned is how important it is to step out of your comfort zone and self-promote. I also learned that there’s business aspects to being an artist that takes equally as much time as creating work. I definitely didn’t anticipate this in the beginning!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a Queens kid, so I’d definitely start in Queens and there’s nothing more iconic than the Unisphere in the world’s borough! After a photo opp, an international Queens food tour is an absolute must! After Queens, we’d head over to the Bronx to hang out at the New York Botanical Garden, one of my favorite places to connect with nature. We’d have dinner at a great Albanian restaurant nearby called Cka Ka Qellu, which features amazing service, rustic decor, and delicious food! After the Bronx, we’d head over to The High Line in Manhattan for an elevated stroll through neighborhoods along the western side of the city. A ride on The Staten Island Ferry at sunset is also a must—it’s free and the views are beautiful. After taking the ferry back to Manhattan, we’d walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to DUMBO and enjoy the views from the Brooklyn Bridge Park with a treat from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. That wraps up my five-borough itinerary of the city!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Within a year of graduating college, I attended 3 to 4 drop-in oil painting classes at a local community center. The teaching artist was a NYC-based Japanese painter and I believe her name was Hiromi. On my very first day, she complimented me on my technique and commented that I was really good and had a unique style. She even suggested that I consider applying to art school. I decided that art school wasn’t the path I wanted to take, but Hiromi’s encouragement energized me to start sharing my work publicly. I’ve always identified as a creative and considered myself artistic since childhood, but that connection point with Hiromi was such a pivotal moment. It marked the point when I formally began to identify as a visual artist. It was so affirming to receive this kind of encouragement from a professional artist (who was also a woman of color) and it ignited an artistic practice that continues to evolve to this day!