Sexuality in Art

an exploration of sexuality, feminism, LGBT issues, and other related topics in the contemporary art world.

Sharmistha Ray, Growing Up in an Islamic Culture as an Indian Lesbian Artist

Artist Sharmistha Ray has spent her life moving between India, the Middle East and the United States, discovering, layer by layer, her own sense of self, sexual identity and artistic vision in contrast or harmony with each new environment. Now, as her latest exhibition Reflections + Transformations is set to open at the Aicon Gallery in New York City on October 24, she tells the TED Blog about how her journey has unfolded so far, taking her from figurative art to abstraction and back to vibrant colors and lush, sensual textures that celebrate and reclaim the female body.

“Growing up gay in a traditional Indian family in an Islamic society in Kuwait also created its own displacement. I experienced oppression very early on within my family and society. My sexuality, which started to emerge in my early teens, was a terrifying realization for me. I lived in mortal fear of anyone knowing my dark secret. But ironically, the fear also bore my love for art. It was through art that I was finally able to find my own voice.”

I find that this speaks volumes and has relevance to many issues. Many artists express that their life struggles and internal battles fuel their art and that their most difficult times result in some of their best art. Sharmistha certainly has plenty of content to reflect upon. Religious issues and conflicts with feminism and sexuality as well as her own sexuality in the context of her Indian heritage, and then what all of that means for her as a contemporary artist. This results in not only an intriguing interview with, but can be viewed in her vivid and unique art itself.