By Ila Ananya
The first art work that I saw by graphic designer Manuja Waldia (whom I recently started following on Instagram) was this one.
Notice the small bottle of Parachute Oil and the cucumber on their eyes.
We went on to find that she has an ongoing series on femininity called Self Care, with paintings (unlike her other fascinating work on illustrating the covers of Shakespeare’s books for the Pelican Shakespeare series, like this one on Macbeth).
But this isn’t all. Waldia’s other series, Matriarchal Memories, has art that she describes as an “ongoing personal series based on my past and present experiences as a (brown) woman.” It has beautiful paintings of women doing different things–getting their eyebrows threaded, waiting outside parlours and dhabas, near washing machines, and in the kitchen. It’s not surprising it won the Annual Society of Illustrators Award in the uncommissioned category.
What I like most about her art (and I mean apart from the colour and the texture in each of these paintings), is the fact that there are so many women in them together. I don’t know what series these images are from, but just look at them!
In an interview with Verve Magazine, Waldia had said jokingly, “My self-worth is completely wrapped around how many likes I get” [on social media]. We can’t imagine her getting anything other than likes for this art.