Creative Women & ProjectsInterviews

Translating Emotion into Art: Meet Rukmini Poddar, the Artist Drawing Emotional Struggles & Internal Dialogues

Emotions and emotional moments are often very tedious to communicate. You often find that it is hard to sort through the layers of emotional wirings/blocks that you are dealing with at a particular time. We, therefore, go through motions and emotions that put our lives in loops as if the entirety of our lives are summed into one song put on repeat. Rukmini Poddar however, has found a way to communicate deeply complicated emotional layers through verbal imageries that connect aptly with your emotional gut.

Verbal imageries are often mental paintings waiting to be birthed and a lot of times they stay that way in our minds…in that pregnant mode. Rukmini, through her illustrations and drawings, creates poignant and spot-on images of inner turmoils and layered silences.
In 2016, she hinged her 100 Days Project – 100 Days Of Drawing Obscure Emotions – on drawing emotions and sharing her drawings with mere mortals like us. Since then, she has published a book of her drawing and showcased an exhibition of her art.
Her drawings show a thorough search into the soul with a birthing of oral visuals that show us how valid our emotions are.

Rukmini Priya - Drawing EmotionToday, we have a conversation with her about her journey and her Art, and how she is so amazing!

For Creative Girls: Your art is so full of silent words and busting emotions. How did you get to be so in touch with your emotions such that you could draw them vividly?
Oh, this is a really good question. To be honest, I believe my gift of “being in touch with my emotions” has only recently come into my awareness. Growing up, I felt out of touch with my emotions a lot. I feel that with the changes in my life in the last few years (living in New York, having new interests and friends) has forced me to be more introspective. I had a defining relationship in my life 2 years ago that caused me to reflect more deeply on the emotions I feel day-to-day and I started to draw them just so I could better understand my internal dialogues and emotions. I decided to draw an emotion I felt every single day for 100 days back in 2016 and share them online. I would say the practice of that taught me to translate my emotions into drawings.

How did you originally start drawing and making art? Did you grow up in an artistic background/family?
I’m actually the only artist in my family. However, I’ve been nurtured in such a way that I was encouraged to pursue what was my passion. And ever since I was young I would constantly draw and make art. I eventually went to attend the graphic design program at UF and immersed myself in the world of art and graphic design. It was perfect.

You currently work as a designer at The Bhakti Center. What’s it like designing timeless culture and practices of Bhakti-yoga? What does your work entail?
It’s been an absolute gift to work at the Bhakti Center. It’s my spiritual home and the reason I came to New York. I create graphics and web promotions for all of the courses, workshops, and events that happen here. I genuinely feel that I’m contributing to a larger cause with the work that I do. I love everyone here and it’s a blessing to have such a conscious community to be connected to in New York City.

Does designing at The Bhakti Center help you better stay in touch with your Art Therapy side?
I’m not an art therapist by any means. Sometimes I like to be a little tongue-in-cheek by saying I’m an online therapist. This is because I have a project called Dear Ruksi where people anonymously share their feelings with me and I draw it in response. I would consider this a form of art therapy.

We remember the first time we saw the Obscure Emotions series, it was so real and honest. How has that series helped you become a more wholesome being?
This is a beautiful question! I would really like to think that my Obscure Emotions series has benefited me by helping me accept my emotions more. I’ve learned that honesty is always attractive. I’ve learned to be ok sharing imperfect work and most importantly, I’ve learned how interconnected we all are.

You later published the series as a book and had an Art Exhibition! How did you evolve from just drawing your emotions into becoming this powerhouse?
I’m really blessed to have had two opportunities to showcase my work last year. And to be honest, it’s hard for me to consider myself a ‘powerhouse’. I’m just trying to share my work as much as I can and I feel like I still have so much further to go!

You are currently drawing a new 100 days series – the Enneagram. What do you hope to achieve with this series?
I’m going to tell you a little secret: I’m so excited about my enneagram project. I’ve loved my previous Obscure Emotions and Dear Ruksi series, but with the Enneagram, I feel like I’m getting a chance to visualize an already existing body of knowledge. I’ve personally learned so much about myself through the enneagram and I think it’s such a powerful tool for understanding ourselves and others with greater empathy. I’m hoping to publish it as a book when I’m done and use it as a tool to teach others about themselves.

On Productivity. Do you have a daily routine? What tools do you use to stay productive and achieve set goals?
Productivity is a constant struggle. I haven’t had a set structured schedule in over a year, and I’m actually itching for more routine in my life. However, my life at the Bhakti Center requires me to wake up quite early and perform a daily sadhana, or spiritual practice. This grounds me, gives me clarity of mind and reminds me of my goal: that no matter what work I do in my life, ultimately I aspire to be an instrument of love in the lives of others.

Tell us about 3 women you admire.
Number 1 is my mother. I have only witnessed her act selflessly and give 110% to her family and children. Number 2 is Krista Tippet, whose podcast was my entryway to thoughtful and sensitive thinking, and number 3 is Mari Andrew who is an incredibly gifted illustrator and writer and whose work has helped me find a voice as an artist.

Your favourite books and websites.
I love by Maria Papova, I am in love with Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic”, I’m currently reading “Personality Types” which is an enneagram book and I recently got a copy of Whitman Illustrated: Songs of myself, which is the most incredible typographical illustration of Walt Whitman’s poetry. Also, I know you didn’t ask for songs, but I’m currently listening to anything by Trevor Hall and I’m simply obsessed.


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