"This is so me."
When I scrolled through this 22-year-old Chennai-born girl's Instagram handle, @sam_madhu, this is all I could say.
That's me at work.
That's me taking selfies with my friends.
Say hi to New-York based designer, Samyukta Madhu. Her artwork represents and caters to a new generation of young Indians who are fighting for feminism, sexuality, independence and self-expression.
Sam, as she is fondly called, draws women who reflect her personality so as to appeal to women who feel the same way. She told ScoopWhoop,
My source of inspiration is honestly my own crazy brain. I come up with bizarre ideas and I bring them to life - it's as simple as that. My work does have a message - people are going to talk shit about you whether you do good or bad, so just be yourself.
She has received mixed response as of now from the bhartiya janta. While some have appreciated her work, most people are 'disgusted' by it. She tells us,
They think I'm trying to say that you can only be a feminist if you wear tiny clothes and smoke cigarettes. I think it's hilarious. I never said anything, I just drew a picture. They're the ones spinning a whole drama. Oh, then there are those who think I'm disrespecting Hinduism. I have no idea how they came to that conclusion - I think Hindu goddesses are divine and gorgeous, and I want to depict them as symbols of empowerment. If you have a problem with that, maybe you should reconsider your hatred.
A lot of people also think my art sends a poor message by telling Indians that they have to lose their culture and Westernize themselves to move forward – that's actually the total opposite of my message - I'm saying respect all the cool stuff your culture has given you and take it with you, at the same time, don't be afraid to move past societal norms. Be brave and express yourself. Don't let society scare you into being someone you are not.
All in all, she is happy with what her work has achieved. She says,
I think art is meant to spark discussion, so I appreciate all comments – positive and negative. My parents, however, are super scared of the controversial nature of my art. They think people will show up outside my house and try to throw acid on my face? That is actually pretty scary and it would suck if that happened.
Her work is available only on her Instagram page as of now, but she is contemplating making a print series after many requests from her followers.
I'm a digital girl so print is not my strong point... but I'll give it a shot anyway.
Way to go, girl!
All images have been sourced from Sam Madhu. Click here to check out the rest of her work.