From Children’s Books To Indian Heritage: An Artist Shares Her Inspo


Artwork representing fruit, birds and vines

Portrait of artist Shachi Kale in her studio

Shachi Kale always has a smile in her voice. She can be talking about her mixed-media work or the isolation she felt upon emigrating from Mumbai, but she consistently radiates optimism and warmth. And these qualities appear in her art. Vivid colors, rounded shapes and dreamlike images pop up everywhere, from her series of desert-inspired prints to the more introspective and ethereal “Conversations With Myself” exhibition. Here, she reflects on the power of children’s book illustrations, how her Indian upbringing shaped her as an artist and more.

What inspires you? Nature inspires me a lot, as well as the things I see in my daily life and the color, folk art and miniature art from India. There’s a lot of storytelling in both that and what I make. And children’s book art, too. Their colors and imagery punch you in the gut. Everything is magical, and it stays with you even as an adult. I’m always trying to recreate that magic.

What are you working on now? I’m painting a custom guitar for Adam Sandler. It’s a project that excites me because I’ve never done anything like it before. I’m also thinking about connections and quilting. Things that can be joined, the experience of not fitting in but fitting together. The big picture can be beautiful and this will form the basis of my next show at Practical Art in Phoenix. 

Why is color central to your work? It’s from my Indian roots. You’re bombarded with color in India: People wear bright colors, everything is colorful, and so it just comes naturally. It’s ironic, because I used to be rejected for my use of color, but people have come around over the past two decades.