Bringing Together Two Cultures Through Collage

Sameena Sitabkhan, Illustrator

What inspires you?

Narratives of weirdness, dissonance, contrast, strangeness; things that don’t fit in. This is my own story, growing up in Los Angeles as a child of Indian muslim immigrants in a community where I stood out and was the strange one.

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Why do you make this type of art?

How do you choose a theme?

I’ve always loved graphics, words and images. I usually choose themes that personally affect me but tie to larger movements or events. Sometimes, though, there are not themes and I just move around pieces of paper I like, find colors that seem to resonate at the moment. It’s a massive relief to work this way given my career as an Architect where everything needs to be justified, and there are so many constraints and rules. I also sometimes feel that a lot of the collage art that I see is based on western source material and I love bringing the richness of vintage and graphic arts that are Indian to my work. I’ve collected and photographed these on numerous trips to visit my grandparents in Bombay.

How do you make it?

What is your process, techniques?

Any free time I have I go to my boxes of scraps I’ve collected over the years and start cutting and pasting. I scan and then combine with digital media and manipulate.

Who are your biggest influences?

Sister Corita Kent, Laxma Goud, Geta Bratescu, Javier Pinon, Perry Kulper, Valerie Roybal, Superstudio, Archigram. I take daily inspiration from the collage art community on Instagram.

What’s your background?

I’m a first generation Indian American, born in Los Angeles. I am an architect by trade, and a professor at the Academy of Art in SF. I have a small firm and run the B.lab program, a community based design where students design and build installations in partnership with underserved communities in the bay area. I thrive off work that revolved around social justice, advocacy and teaching the next generation of architects how necessary this is.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

I would love to exhibit a few times this year in group shows and someday complete a small mural. I’d also love to combine my architecture practice with my art, still figuring that one out.

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