Allow us to introduce Ajanbeni K Yanthan, an aspiring artist from the small town of Wokha in Nagaland. Despite facing numerous challenges, Ajanbeni remains determined to pursue her artistic passion. Over a chat, Ajanbeni explained why pursuing her creative passions is more fulfilling than traditional “secure jobs.” She also shares how stays motivated and committed to her art career in the face of societal expectations.
“I am what I believe myself to be,” she confides, reflecting her unwavering self-belief and refusal to be confined by limitations. Ajanbeni draws inspiration from a variety of sources, including fellow artists, different art forms, movies, music, and books. Her creative process is fueled by an insatiable appetite for inspiration and a desire to constantly evolve and grow.
R&L: Hello Ajan, it’s a pleasure to have you here. Could you introduce yourself and give us a glimpse into your life as a young artist and student?
Ajan: Hi R & L I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity. My name is Ajanbeni K Yanthan from Wokha, Nagaland. I am a full-time artist and I also provide art classes to a handful of students from my home-based art studio. I did my MA in English Literature and pursued a Diploma in Cultural and Creative Studies – Painting from North Eastern Hill University, Shillong.
As an artist from a small town in Nagaland, how do you continue to learn and find inspiration? Can you tell us about the sources that help you evolve, such as other artists, movies, music, books, or other forms of art?
Ajan: I bear my share of struggles as an artist from a small town with very few exposure opportunities. Despite all the hurdles I focus on the silver lining because, at the end of the day, I am what I believe myself to be.
My art teacher used to say, “Art is Everywhere,” and this profound statement has been a tremendous inspiration for me. It has guided me to explore and expand my work across various art forms, from traditional to contemporary art.
I am constantly amazed by the endless possibilities of learning and exploring new forms of art and their unique significance. To immerse myself in my work, I enjoy listening to art podcasts, watching art documentaries, and creating a positive atmosphere with uplifting music.
Handmade paper painting by Ajanbeni
R&L: You participate in a range of artistic endeavors, such as producing artwork, leading art workshops, and selling customized pieces. What motivated you to dedicate your time and effort to developing your skills and taking part in these varied pursuits?
Ajan: Art has been a big part of my life since childhood. I used to take part in art competitions and activities throughout my school and college years. Looking back at those years, for me it’s the most organic career path for me. I am fortunate to have amazing people around me who recognize my talents and support my aspirations. Their encouragement has had a positive impact on me, and it has motivated me to build more confidence and share my work with a wider audience. I hope to contribute to the art world and achieve as much as possible.
R&L: What are the influences that shape your artistic style?
Ajan: As mentioned earlier, I prefer to keep my work flexible as it enhances my knowledge of art and allows me to explore the various forms and mediums of art. This approach stems from my background in art. I find it more enthralling to use symbols, patterns, or any such significant forms in my work. I believe artistic exploration is one major objective for both the viewers and the artist to achieve.
Also, given my literature background, I like to emphasize creating art that connects the ideas to the subject on an individual level of perception.
Toned paper painting by Ajanbeni
R&L: Who have been your biggest cheerleaders, and how have they impacted your growth and confidence as an artist?
Ajan: My art venture has gained both cheerleaders and belittlers along the way. As an aspiring artist, my journey has been uncertain, but I am grateful to those who have supported and encouraged me. Their kindness serves as motivation to keep moving forward. Despite some urging me to pursue a more stable career, I choose to believe in the potential for self-made success. I view my art as a medium to share the light and dark moments of life, conveying powerful messages and emotions. Ultimately, I hope my viewers are moved by my work and take away their own unique perspectives and experiences.
R&L: Art has the power to convey powerful messages and evoke emotions. What message or messages do you aim to convey through your artwork, and what do you hope viewers take away from experiencing your creations?
Ajan: Painting has given me the hope to not give up and a purpose to shape my life. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that the more daunting the prospect of growth in this field appeared, the more my art thrived. When I set out to paint a subject, it takes on a life of its own, seemingly expressing itself through my brushstrokes. And this is the sole reason why I decided to name my work “Art with a Heart” and created a Logo to symbolize its significance, capturing the essence of my creations.
Just as my passion for art has enabled me to evaluate myself and forge ahead with hope and possibilities, I hope my viewers too, can envision the unlimited potential of themselves and the world.
Hailing from a small town in Nagaland gives me more reason to create art that signifies our fascinating roots. I try to merge traditional and modern art forms, expanding the realm of creativity in my work. My approach is usually optimistic. No matter the circumstance or the limitation, I have always managed to create something that signifies hope and a ‘silver lining’..
R&L: Looking ahead to the future, what are your hopes and aspirations for your artistic career? Where do you envision yourself in the coming years, and what steps are you taking to turn your dreams into reality?
Ajan: Though I am constantly reminded of the challenges and the discouraging remarks which seem to only diminish any hope to expand my vision, I am certain of what I want to achieve in my career as an artist. I am forever chasing the Silver Lining. And as I witness the gradual emergence of art and culture among the younger generation, I am more determined than ever to be a catalyst for change. I aspire to awaken new perspectives, ideas, and platforms that will shape our culture and provide more opportunities for aspiring art enthusiasts.
I feel fulfilled by striving to be the best version of myself and putting in my utmost effort. Though there may be stress involved in pursuing a creative path, I am fully dedicated to it and going against the norm of following a traditional job.
R&L: Beyond the multi-faceted and multi-talent persona that we can all see, are there any other hidden talents you have? Or, share a fun fact about yourself that might surprise us.
Ajan: Thank you for your compliment, but I am not sure if I possess any other hidden talents at the moment. However, I am open to exploring new interests and developing skills in the future to add more depth to my personality.
Regarding a fun fact about myself, I enjoy spending quiet moments alone, but I also have a carefree side that can be quite lively. I have a diverse taste in movies, ranging from thrilling experiences to calming stories that soothe the soul. I appreciate both dark color palettes that exude a sense of mystery and soft blush colors that convey gentleness and warmth.
I have a preference for both tea and coffee, depending on the situation. Tea is my go-to for moments of healing, while coffee helps me through frequent existential crises. Despite these quirks, my passion for art remains unwavering. It is the driving force in my life, and regardless of indecisiveness in other areas, art is the anchor that keeps me grounded and inspired.
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