Simply put, India reified is the painter’s palette. A palette of cultures, faiths, beliefs, values, systems, societies, and socioeconomic statuses abound engage in forms of social intercourse yet somehow artfully retain their identities. It is breathtakingly synergistic. As I wait for my ride outside of the Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur, Rajasthan I notice a peculiar color wheel, a palette, recently smeared by the summer rain. The rain, a social lubricant, enables the colors to bleed outside of their boundaries, bleed into one another. Yet, amidst this chaotic interaction, there is equilibrium. There is an unbridled energy as the paints attempt to retain their color.
Before this moment, I had never experienced art that could feel so alive, never before once felt as though I was the art I perceived. I had never completely understood up until now the intimate interaction between art and life. The palette, in more ways than one, mirrored not only the collective, but also the individual identity. Indeed, the palette harkens back to social activist, Jane Elliott’s theory of racial integration:
“We don’t need a melting pot in this country folks. We need a salad bowl. In a salad bowl, you put in the different things. You want the vegetables-the lettuce, the cucumbers, the onions, the green peppers-to maintain their identity. You appreciate the differences.”
The color wheel outside of Albert Hall that day reinforced for me that attempting to meld my biracial Indian-American identity will only muddy it. Conversely, I need to appreciate the differences of both of my identities. I need to strive to maintain a sense of concord between these two complementary colors. Even still, the rangoli-designed palette captured the bedrock of Indian culture and society— that a multitude of cultures and identities exist in harmony, through varied forms of social lubrication and chaotic social intercourses, as it becomes socially permissible to draw outside of the lines.