What we Worship, We shall Become

"My feeling is that mythic forms reveal themselves 
gradually in the course of your life ,
if you know what they are 
and how to pay attention to their emergence'
'What we worship we shall become'  became a particularly important affirmation for me these last few months while travelling through the Kumbh. I once had a conversation in an old temple somewhere in the north with a Sadhu where I asked him "Why do men worship the goddesses on our walls, but rape the women in their homes?" and in his smokey haze he said to me  "When you(and women) see your own divinity and strength, all else will follow". At that point in my life, I felt like that was a very convenient thing to say. But perhaps there's truth in this, instead of waiting for patriarchy to liberate me, I'm making an active effort to liberate myself and reclaim my right to my body, to public space and to spirituality. 'Fearless' is one step towards that.

"By the time I reached my mid-twenties, I was thoroughly conditioned by masculine spirituality to believe that the feminine body is more than anything an inconvenient obstacle, and I didn’t want to use my energy on these earthly matters. I was seeking a transcended state of enlightenment. One day..it became apparent that there is no 'out of here', that what I had been seeking outside myself was (and is over and over) realized by opening to love, the love that is the very fabric of which I am made. This realization challenged me to embrace life in its totality, my body also being a manifestation of this same love, and it brought my awareness to the cycles happening around me and within. When I listened to these rhythms, new dimensions of awakening revealed themselves to me.
~Chameli Ardagh

Paintings walls in public spaces is an extremely symbolic way of reclaiming the streets, and being in Benaras- India's Hindu and Spiritual center, I felt like I wanted to leave my mark and message on the walls there. No permissions and buckets of paint, for 3 days I stood by the banks with some of the local kids jumping in to help.

While this wall was done without permission (save an OK from the Chaiwallah perched outside it), I was pleased to find that the tenants of that particular wall work with girls rights in particular.

Synchronistic. While painting this wall I also had a lot of interesting discussions/debates with locals there about women and violence in India.

Special Love and shoutouts to Suki Zoe, new friend and co-cosmic traveller through the Kumbh on diets of veggie juice and barfis, who has taken all these pictures (and many more)- more from her here - http://qito.co.uk/2013/02/06/shilo-shiv-suleman/

annnnd Avijit, who always carries my metaphorical and real ladders. Also special love to all the children in Benaras who painted with me, the parrot who sat beside me and more. Next time you're there- Go check out my wall near Vaatika Pizzeria at Assi ghat, on the same wall that says gangamahal ghat. :)

This one was painted for Kitsch Mandi's Neighbourhood festival and says  'The F-word- Feminist is not a bad or angry word, fearlessly reclaim the streets' It was inspired by conversations and articles by two friends Aarthi and Anisha.  While the Benaras wall is placed within the context of hindu-heartland, this wall is all urban. You can see it outside JNC college in Koramangala and it inspired this movement of women :  http://www.talkingcranes.com/In%20the%20news/the-importance-of-loitering
You can spend your life hoping that
when only you get rid of the fear,
when you are a little bit more enlightened,

when you have built up your self esteem, 
then you will show up and give it all.

Or... you can get out of your own way,
make yourself available,
and bow down to the One who plays you.
~Chameli Ardagh


Mumbai Paused said...

These days people worship only themselves. The mirror is god and our selfie images. :(

Supriya said...

Hi Shilo, so you painted all those walls in banaras!! I was there last week and delighted by ur graffitis. I was really curious as to who made these and a local boy told me some yarn abt an Israeli man who visits Banaras every year and makes these paintings...hahahaha...they are beautiful. You are growing flowers :) Great going
I am Supriya btw

Phebe said...

I am very moved by your words and art

Meganess said...

A beautiful, powerful Gesture!! My heart is bigger again! Thanks you Shilo and all supporters..much Love.

Laura Bergstrome said...

I love love love your work My daughter and I have both enjoyed Khoya, after seeing your TED talk.
I would like to ask permission to use an image, credited to you & linked to this site, on my website.
This is the link: http://www.creativesimplicity.ca/about-creative-simplicity/ - I will remove it immediately if you feel that is best.

Unknown said...

I truly enjoyed your paintings...

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silvertonge said...

Thank you for sharing your divine love and art. Yor words and artwork has become my mantra and prayer.

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