Artist of the Week: Kalmuhi

21 year old Illustrator and feminist voice, Pranjali Dubeydecided it was time she used her Media Studies degree to make something she was really passionate about. This is what gave birth to Kalmuhi, a gendered and political art movement of her own through raw and fiery illustration. Taking every day struggles of young girls and giving it a canvas and a voice, Dubey is a woman who chooses not to abide and fit into the societal mould. Her work is relatable yet triggering all at once.

The Ahmedabad-based illustrator lets us in on more.

Who is Kalmuhi ?

Kalmuhi (literally the one who has her face blackened in public of shame) is a term that stands for any woman who breaks the rules and goes against the norms, who does not fit into the socially assigned mould and rebels real hard. Kalmuhi is a platform that I have created for us, the norm breaking women to discuss the issues that we face everyday.

What’s your origin story?

As any other woman growing up in a middle class patriarchal set up, I’ve faced my set of gender issues and my questions regarding these have always been considered a taboo. I was called too radical for asking questions about my own body. That is when I decided to start channelizing all my frustration through my art.

I have been doodling since school but I only found the will and the time to pursue it seriously after I graduated. Kalmuhi began as a simple space for curating all the little pieces that I created but eventually turned into a platform for discussing serious gender issues that all of us face as a society, every day.

Kalmuhi’s work

What inspires your creative process?

Personal experiences and stories. I speak to a lot of women on a daily basis. I’ve realised, depending on factors like age, sexuality, education, cultural norms, economic background and exposure to media, each person has a unique set of battles that they have faced/are facing. I receive countless messages on my Instagram everyday regarding these issues, from women coming from varied backgrounds. A lot of them share their personal experiences and want me to doodle about them for the world to see and understand what they go through better.

Once the story/experience hits me deeply, research about the issue helps me get a wider perspective and a better sense of understanding.

The Aunty Radar- Kalmuhi

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism to me is equal treatment and respect for all, irrespective of who they are or choose to be. Letting people be, is what I advocate. Their gender/sexuality/ choice of lifestyle should not be the determinants of their worth.

Art’s place in activism has been profound throughout modern history, what emotions do you feel can best describe your art and your personal revolution?

As a Feminist artist, my aim is to create a dialogue between my doodles and the audience through an inclusion of women’s perspective. My art is a commentary and means less for aesthetic admiration, and more for understanding and questioning the socio-political landscape of the prevalent gender issues. I am using it as a tool to try and mend the society in places where it seems broken.

The Manscratcher — Kalmuhi

What does the future look like for Kalmuhi?

At this point, I just aim to reach out to as many people I can and illustrate their experiences, spread awareness and trigger a discussion. I am being invited to schools to talk and hold discussions about gender issues that pre-teens face every day and the lack of support and education regarding the same. So the future definitely holds a lot of doodles, questions, and discussions. But I am definitely looking for more visibility and better opportunities since the world is very difficult for independent artists out there.

You can find Kalmuhi here.


About our writer: Rhea Dangwal is a Desi feminist and writer at large, annihilating misogyny and chicken nuggets with equal vengeance. DM her a high five here: @rheadangs

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