00:02.21
charukaarora
Okay, welcome to the podcast debbi. How are you am? Well thank you for joining and it pretty early joining for you so Debbie I remember you did.

00:07.53
Debbi
I’m good. How are you? so.

00:12.44
Debbi
Yes, it’s six thirty and working.

00:21.15
charukaarora
Um, it’s on. It’s I think it’s just so wonderful. How a community and you know how internet and all of these things work I remember when we first connected like you mentioned just before we started recording was why an Instagram take takeover and at that point we were doing weekly Instagram takeovers with artists and you know all of that. And I remember that um yours particularly because you shared a set of posts that literally like you know, resonated with a lot of people about being an artist and you know, um, that really stood out and. I remember us chatting and I think at that point we discussed about how you know come bringing you on the podcast but you know things take time and we finally have you and I really I think I’ve I’ve I’ve read your interviews I’ve I’ve seen your work over the years and I really know that you know you have a lot of.

01:06.48
Debbi
Um, and.

01:19.30
charukaarora
Really grateful insights and I really like how you put yourself out there in the sense of your ideas. But before we go there for can you We start with knowing you pet in the sense of anyone who’s listening Can you tell us a little bit about yourself who you are where you come from and you know anything that you feel.

01:35.58
Debbi
Um, um, totally um, well thank you for having me. Um, and yeah I remember that that takeover as well. It was really a special one. Um so I live in New York City um

01:38.25
charukaarora
Is relevant for us.

01:51.74
Debbi
I’m ah a painter but I also did my I have like a degree in painting and a degree in sculpture and so I think like three-dimensional aspects. Definitely come into my work and influence my work. Um I grew up in the pacific northwest region of the United States which is on the West Coast and the north part. Um.

01:57.83
charukaarora
I. Are.

02:11.54
Debbi
I Grew up just below the Canadian border. So I always say I’m like almost Canadian or just a little Canadian um like pretty much on the border. Um, but yeah so I grew up over there and I um I did my undergrad there I had um I was homeschooled growing up so I was I kind of.

02:19.74
charukaarora
Um.

02:30.21
Debbi
Ah, big like farm esque property with my family. Um I have a lot of siblings so it was a very like rural like homestead environment. Um, so I didn’t see a lot of art. Um, which is really cool I think that’s influence.

02:43.94
charukaarora
Um, yeah I read that and I resonated with a lot of part of your stories actually of your story.

02:50.33
Debbi
Yeah, well that’s great. That’s great. Um, um, but yeah I think growing up like not seeing a lot of art was you know it. It definitely shaped the kind of things I make now because I’m really interested in like craft movements and like um, just like. More like folk art and like the history of um people you know from different backgrounds making art and that doesn’t wasn’t necessarily made for the museum or the gallery. Um I didn’t really go to my first museum until I was 18 which is funny because it was actually in Paris so I was like.

03:20.35
charukaarora
Yeah, that do yeah yeah oh I I mean that story to I I had a pretty similar experience. Yeah.

03:26.55
Debbi
And music dar say that was a really big jump. Um, yeah I didn’t but yet I um you grew up in a rural rural area as well.

03:40.25
charukaarora
No, so um, you know that is the thing with India so how we grew up. So if you see in the west. Um, it’s art is still integrated in people’s life in the sense of like how they consume versus in India more than being art India is a lot craft driven.

03:54.70
Debbi
Um, what.

03:58.12
charukaarora
And that is why how it’s shaped me and my work and for me I didn’t go to a museum or a gallery until like the same I may be 20 and before that. Ah, but that being said I grew up around a lot of crafts and I grew up in Agra you know tajmail and like you know.

04:01.92
Debbi
Are um.

04:06.20
Debbi
Well.

04:17.98
charukaarora
Ah, of a very small town it’s it’s it’s I wouldn’t say it was completely dual, but it wasn’t it was it was a very small town and we didn’t have enough exposure and like you know. Also it’s ah India’s a lot more patriarchal country in the sense of like how women and gender rules and like you know so. It’s like I was always crafting and you know sewing and um, you know, bringing things together and art per se was never like ah I was never exposed to that idea in the sense of my work like you know mixed media that was like that was always for me because.

04:45.63
Debbi
Oh says it.

04:53.46
charukaarora
As kids you never taught like oh you have to paint like I would always with find materials and you know so I really didn’t know um that you know art gallery or a museum or how paintings and painters and like how fine art Percy was so much associated with that kind of a profile and. That never seemed like an option to me honestly.

05:15.30
Debbi
Um, yeah I Yeah I guess I I thought maybe I could like go into design or something um because similar to you I you know I didn’t know any artists that were like full time living off their work.

05:20.82
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

05:26.46
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

05:27.94
Debbi
But my sister she she’s seven years older than me and she’s also an artist and she went to school for um, for art and then she ended up switching into design and so she and she’s like you know does design work now. Um and is really good at it and.

05:30.27
charukaarora
Oh wow.

05:38.36
charukaarora
Um, okay.

05:44.43
Debbi
So I saw her go through that because she was so much older than me and I was like oh okay, so like when I go to school I’ll I’ll go to design but it didn’t It didn’t work I kind of immediately switch painting. Um, but yes I um.

05:48.76
charukaarora
This could be a way. Yeah, add this name.

06:00.62
Debbi
But yeah, my I did go to public school for high school so I was homeschooled until I was like 14 and then I transitioned into the public system which was a really like I grew up in such a small town that like my graduating class was around 100 people um and it was the only high school so it was still like you know, a pretty.

06:14.20
charukaarora
Oh wow.

06:20.57
Debbi
And pretty small experience. Um, but it was good because the art teacher like really um, he really like helped me and looked after me and um when I got to high school. He’d been kind of like watching my um, my movement through the town growing up with.

06:28.58
charukaarora
Um.

06:40.80
Debbi
Ah, like the little art things I would do so I there was always these craft fairs and um, there’d be an art competition. So I would apply you know as like a 8 or 10 year old but or than like you know, getting into like 1112 and um I just been like learning how to paint from my sister. Um, and. He had seen those little things and by the time I got to high school. He was like kind of figured out who I was and decided to work with me individually and was really I mean that that really set me on like set me off as an artist because he um he know he brought in oil paints for me because like that wasn’t something I could afford. Um.

07:06.53
charukaarora
Um, okay.

07:18.10
Debbi
And he like had 1 of the woodshop ah students make me an easel and he helped me like rearrange my schedule so that I could be in the art area more often and um, he even had like some of the ballerinas come like post for us after class and so a group of us would get together and like sketch. Um. Yeah, was he’s a really really great teacher. We’re still in in touch. Um, but but yeah, so then I went from there to to a formal university for art and I I thought I was going to do design but I only lasted like one semester on the computer and I was like so I was like I don’t know.

07:38.76
charukaarora
No wow.

07:54.94
Debbi
I’m gonna do what I’m done but I really have to be doing art. Um, so I switched over into that. Um.

08:01.42
charukaarora
Oh Wow and tell me something you know I for me. Um, because I didn’t know being an artist could ever be an option and for me design per se um my own D So I have a huge influence of my mom or where and my work.

08:07.96
Debbi
But.

08:17.14
charukaarora
And she really was always interested in clothing and I think clothing and craft as women in India is a very big part. It’s like you know how gender roles are defined like okay women. So and like you know you know the crafty things and men athletic and voice are athletic and they play and all of that. So.

08:26.27
Debbi
Um.

08:28.63
Debbi
1

08:36.56
charukaarora
It didn’t seem like something something so you know they very very naturally passed on to you and I felt like my mom really enjoyed her clothes and you know all the feminine side of you know dressing up and that really um. So I saw that side and I felt like okay I maybe I can I can design clothes and you know make so fashion was something that I’d always been interested in I’d never seen an artist in my life I’d never seen a painter now I knew about one I also lived in a smaller town so an art in itself isn’t like you know that industry in the. Couple of years has grown too much in India but before that it was it is still like a gated community for a few privileged and you know the consumption of art is very different like I said it’s a lot more craft than it is arts and it felt like it was for me. It wasn’t like. Okay I want to be an artist. It was like a ah lot of roadblocks that I’d hit and I’d be like okay let me try this. No. Let me try another thing know that we tried this thing no and then I was like you know what? I’ve tried everything and this is who I am and maybe I should and not that by that point I’d been exposed to the idea of maybe.

09:38.89
Debbi
Um, um.

09:50.13
charukaarora
You know, being an artist but I never found the validation and I know that you I read it on there that you have all your siblings as creators as well like you know someone is a musician and but do you think that? um, did you have any inhibitions and your own inhibition as an.

09:59.62
Debbi
Um I was.

10:08.37
charukaarora
People around you regarding being a visual artist so you know taking a path of an artist specifically coming from like a financial stability and you know, um.

10:14.86
Debbi
Um, yeah, total. Yeah, it’s so hard. Yeah I mean I definitely didn’t We didn’t grow up with any money at all so and like my um, yeah, my um.

10:22.91
charukaarora
Choice a.

10:30.71
Debbi
Im trying to think the best way answer this but my um, yeah, there was 5 kids in my family and so and my my dad was like you know my mom was full time like taking care of us and my dad was full time working and so there wasn’t like any.

10:38.91
charukaarora
A. Has.

10:45.22
Debbi
Any financial like extra stuff going on. Um, and so we were like really curative. What’s just like even though even though like um, you know we are in the west where like you could argue that K Craft is not at the same level as it is but there. But.

10:56.64
charukaarora
Yeah, yeah I felt that.

11:02.27
Debbi
Yeah I I would definitely agree at that. But I but also there is like amongst like more rural like home studying communities like there is a history of of craft and other ways like um, my dad does a lot of lathe work. Um, and my.

11:10.21
charukaarora
Oh oh.

11:18.51
Debbi
Growing up. He wasn’t like as much into that then I think he did it occasionally but my um, my uncle who grew up on the same properties as he he did like tons of woodwork and was like that he made a lot of like picture frames for everyone and like um, like just but vessels and like interesting things.

11:27.60
charukaarora
Um, but.

11:36.54
Debbi
Um, my dad also like built our house which is crazy. Um, and you know he just did it like learning from books and so there was ah there was a and that was something like his his dad had had been a part of too and so it was like passed down on the like on my on the more like mail side and then.

11:40.54
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

11:45.29
charukaarora
Um, goodness.

11:50.77
charukaarora
Capacity.

11:56.21
Debbi
On the female side like both of my grandmothers were seamstresses. Um, and so one of them was a seamstress in the sense that it was her job and she didn’t like it and I don’t think she really had a passion for it but it was how you know her and her husband ran. Um.

11:58.26
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

12:03.93
charukaarora
Are.

12:12.93
charukaarora
Um, money money money from money. Um.

12:14.90
Debbi
Ah, business where that was her her contribution so she was very burnt out but she knew it very well and then my other grandmother was ah was similar to my mom like a full-time Mom Um, but she was she would sew like all the clothes and stuff and so I I grew up with like. Not everything I had but anything like fancy I was supposed to wear was like from my grandma that she had made and it was It was like both like beautiful and hideous at the same time. It was like all frilly and um and but my mom you know my mom hated sewing.

12:37.83
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

12:48.86
Debbi
And she didn’t really learn it I think because her mom had had like such a you know, fraught relationship with it being something that she used to survive financially. Um, and so she didn’t at all want to sew and she didn’t teach me how to sew. Um and we even had a sewing machine I remember like wanting to know how to use it. But um.

12:57.42
charukaarora
Um, yeah, are.

13:08.81
Debbi
And I would try and make clothes on it growing up but I would they would just turn out terrible. Um, and then when I got to New York um I got more interested in flowing again. Um, and so I’ve been I so some of my clothes now here. But um, but yeah I think to.

13:16.78
charukaarora
Um, is.

13:27.84
Debbi
Back to your question I think yeah I think there was like definitely hesitancy from my parents about like you know what? you know what are you going to do with an art degree but surprisingly I feel like maybe because they had so many kids they were like.

13:38.76
charukaarora
Are.

13:43.35
Debbi
This one kind of like goes off the path little it will be okay is everybody else. My family chose like pretty practical jobs. Um, but I think they just they could kind of see it like I had been there from the beginning like I was oil painting you know in high school in my bedroom. Um.

13:48.60
charukaarora
Ah, yeah.

14:01.17
charukaarora
Was.

14:01.46
Debbi
And growing up I was always crafting and um so I think I think they kind of they you know they were like we can’t really help you with with that career choice but we can be supportive. Um and they’ve been very supportive. So it yeah.

14:11.53
charukaarora
Um, yeah, and that’s a great gift. He got it.

14:18.95
Debbi
Yeah, and my dad you know my dad’s comes from a family of musicians. So I think he he understands. Yeah, my mom may be a little less but she she understands this way even better who I am and that it was like it is what it is.

14:26.12
charukaarora
Are.

14:34.24
charukaarora
Okay, tell me something. Um I’ve had this shift in myself and not that I lived on a pharmacy but but I lived like specifically while I was growing up where I was born. It was. It was a very rural area very rural. So in India is like like.

14:38.90
Debbi
And.

14:53.64
charukaarora
You know it’s smallest cities and like ju small towns are like them. It’s not like it’s India’s nowhere quaint and quiet. We’re an overpopulated country so we are very kiotic and like you know.

15:04.27
Debbi
Perfect.

15:10.40
charukaarora
But yeah I grew up around looking at cows and like you know we had a lot of ah, very rural in the sense of ah where we lived and you know then when I we moved away from that area to another and then when I moved from here to telly it was It wasn’t like a. It. It wasn’t like I moved countries at that point. But then even then I saw that there was a huge shift I felt that shift I still see that shift even though where I am now the city has changed drastically. It’s become a lot more like you know, modern and like you know things like that. It’s grown a lot. But.

15:34.33
Debbi
Nothing help us.

15:49.73
charukaarora
Today my found I think my foundation was laid because of that of what I saw of what I saw around me and how I grew up. Let’s first talk about did you feel the shift of you know, moving from a smaller rural area to then living in New York I’m and I’m sure that’s like a.

16:09.40
Debbi
Yes, yeah, um I mood shift. You know it was a huge shift. Um I you know there’s I feel like a real new yorker knows that they can never call themselves a new yorker you know what when they’ve been here like 9 years but um yeah it was a big shift.

16:09.51
charukaarora
Huge huge shift.

16:21.32
charukaarora
Um, you’ve been living for 9 years wow

16:26.95
Debbi
And New York City yeah um but my yeah, it’s it’s crazy I’m coming up on a decade soon. But next next summer will be a decade but um, my so before I moved to New York I had like maybe a year or two before that I had like a runaway summer where I ran away to San Francisco and it was like.

16:43.88
charukaarora
Ah, okay.

16:46.54
Debbi
It was the the worst idea because I was the summer that two of my siblings got married and so I didn’t have any money and I was like living in a warehouse with a friend’s family and trying to I was teaching sailing lessons. Um I just really I felt like I needed to get it was like a you know my my independence I needed to just. Out of that state. Um, so I ran ran away for a summer and any money I made I ended up spending on these plane tickets to fly back to see my family. Um, so I came back like just even more brokes and I went down there even though I was supposed to come back and have like you know more independence financially. Um, but. Anyways, but that was a good experience because I that was my first time really leaving the small like even the the town I went to school in for for my um undergrad was like it was you know a fairly small town compared to New York city it’s a small city. But um I think going from like.

17:28.41
charukaarora
Um, home.

17:41.23
Debbi
Small time I grew up into like a small city that was like ah a jump that was like you know, doable and then going to San Francisco for that summer and then coming back and processing it that was like doable and then moving from there New York City that was like the biggest jump but I have kind of laid these building blocks for it.

17:46.70
charukaarora
Yeah.

17:58.14
charukaarora
Building plaques.

18:00.72
Debbi
But it was still. You know I I think I think what really helped is that I I moved for school so I was like I was really like wrapped up and like the community of school and like you know I had come from a different school. So I knew how to do school. Um.

18:06.40
charukaarora
Um, yeah, it made you? yeah.

18:17.48
Debbi
And also I was in Southern Brooklyn so I was in we not that far south if you know Brooklyn but I was in crown heights and then I was going to school like around flatos area totmus park because I was going to Brooklyn college um, so my whole you know most people think of New York city

18:22.21
charukaarora
Yeah.

18:33.17
charukaarora
Um.

18:35.28
Debbi
Like and I think of the movies supposed. You’re talking about like Manhattan and like maybe Beddsty Williamsburg and car heights but not often like a tongue farther south from there. Um, and those parts of the city I didn’t even go to that often because I was so busy with school. Um, so I was really like Cran Heights and south of there. Um, but those first few years I was definitely adjusting. Um I think it was a big cultural adjustment because you know the place I come from is like a predominantly.

19:02.00
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

19:07.81
Debbi
Um, and it it does have diversity for sure but particularly like the town and the college town I went to were like pretty white areas and that was a really like good experience for me to just be like become like a slice of the pie I think that was part of what I was attracted to New York for besides obviously the art was like the diversity. Um, so I think I spent coming from such a like isolated background I feel like I just spent like every day on the train just like absorbing the different people and how they dress. Um and I was needed and like oh so inspired by all the different like um fashion things. Um, but it was.

19:35.32
charukaarora
Um, yeah, yeah.

19:45.87
Debbi
Heart. It was a hard adjustment. It was hard like um New York is very like it’s a very like um I forget how the saying goes but it’s something about how like you know they’re they’re mean but they’re kind like um, New York are really blunt. They’re really aggressive.

20:00.14
charukaarora
Um, yeah, yeah, so.

20:03.83
Debbi
But they actually are really kind. Um, but like the in the northwest people are a lot more like subtle but they might not be that nice underneath it? Um, so it took me a bit like you know I try and order food and it’d be like next you know they like yell next. Ah, right? after you order and it would be like oh. Um, yeah I Love It. You know I like getting get in line for my food and I Love how it is and but it took me a little bit to it. That’s for Sure. Um.

20:24.59
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

20:33.70
charukaarora
How part shifting you know like the New York Art world it’s like ah you know every artistry you bring their work to New York and like you know you’ve really you know, laid that foundation for yourself, shown your work around not only in New York but but you’re also a New York an artist who’s working in New York and showing around. Do you feel that stark. Um, sometimes the stark difference from where you come versus. You know the typical and specifically I don’t know I mean I’ve not been a part of that world I don’t know. But I really am interested in knowing like the idea of you. You know the New York Art world and like you know the white wall the galleries and like you know it’s such a different world. Um, how has that shift and that those two sides feel to you and how did like how do you also be yourself as an like.

21:12.78
Debbi
Yeah.

21:27.75
charukaarora
Not only as an artist I think we are all extensions of who we are and wherever we’ve grown up how we’ve grown up really shapes us. So I think my question is how do you as you yourself navigate into a very different world and find your keeping your authenticity and find yourself.

21:31.91
Debbi
Um, over.

21:41.96
Debbi
Um, um.

21:47.25
charukaarora
Specifically as an artist.

21:47.53
Debbi
Yeah, well yeah, it’s a good question. Um, so the for the part about the galleries like I mean it is a very different art scene from where I grew up and um I didn’t really I never had a chance to be like an adult in the northwest without being a student. Which I think is an important distinction because when you’re an adult and you’re in school. You’re not the same as like an adult that’s just like hanging out and going to bars or like whatever adults do and so when I said so I was in like the North Northwest like

22:11.16
charukaarora
Um, yeah, yeah.

22:20.15
Debbi
Did go see galleries and like you know the Vancouver art gallery if you go across um like the or the art museum. Whatever it is like across the border. Um, there’s a beautiful museum up there and if you go south to Seattle you know the Sam The Seattle Art Museum um there’s a lot of a lot of like. Big institutional things. But there’s not a ton of galleries. There are some in Seattle and there’s a couple in Bellingham where I went to school but being in New York it was like just a crazy big difference and as far as that goes um like galleries I mean it’s like if you walk through Chelsea it’s like. Almost like museum after museum and they’re just galleries like some of those galleries especially in the last like 5 years have just gotten bigger and bigger. Um, so that was a big shift. Um, which you know I think that’s it’s hard for me to leave now because I’m I’m just so like acclibated to see i’m.

22:56.88
charukaarora
Row.

23:14.72
Debbi
I see so much art. Um like every week I got to like do shows at least and um, but but for the part of the question about like my identity in a different place. Um I think you know it’s funny because my partner is from New York he’s and he’s a new yorker as they say.

23:15.66
charukaarora
Um, yeah, yeah.

23:33.80
Debbi
Um, and I think that being a Non-new Yorker and like for a long time. It’s like you’re kind of you’re almost trying to hide it because you’re like you want to like it’s a natural urge to like assimilate no matter what where you come from um into the place where you are.

23:42.85
charukaarora
Yeah.

23:48.60
charukaarora
Yeah.

23:52.34
Debbi
And so I’m always trying to be like oh I’m I’m like look I fit in so well here look I’m a piece of this of this puzzle. Um, and he’s really helpful about like being like I like the parts of you that don’t aren’t from here. Um, and so like for it and there’s things I grew up with like I grew up wearing. Um.

23:57.21
charukaarora
Yeah.

24:06.78
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

24:12.70
Debbi
Like I grew up like really with the heart like horses and everything and so my my grandpa would always wear like like cowboy boots and such um and so I grew up wearing like calgroll boots and that was like kind of part of my aesthetic and then I brought those to New York city and I would you know I wouldn’t really wear them because I felt like I stood out so much and.

24:13.95
charukaarora
Proud.

24:31.65
Debbi
And he encouraged me to be like this is they’re really cool like it’s cool that nobody wears those here and that you’re wearing them. Um, so there’s like fashion things that I’ve like I’ve kind of you know, adapted from New York and like various cultures into my my current like fashion and like way of talking. But also there’s like. Things from the northwest that I’ve learned to like showcase more and be like this is this is cool because it’s my background and it’s what makes me me. Um, yeah I think it’s important.

24:58.48
charukaarora
I like that? Yeah and I think you know that’s um I think so I and I was speaking about this even in the first call today like while I grew up. Um I would look at indian art and a lot of indian art has a lot of you know. Religious and religious figures and then it’s a lot of like you know it looked a lot similar and it it. It has a certain style and sense and I felt like oh no I once I started making a but I will not make like a lord. Typical intenato all of that and then few years down the lane I where if you look at my work Today. You can very instantly say that I come from India it has a huge influence of um who I am and something that I didn’t wear as a badge of honor at that point.

25:47.22
Debbi
Are.

25:55.16
charukaarora
Has today become um, a huge badge of honor a huge sense of belongingness. Um and the sense of identity and that took me a lot of years to like you know, um embrace my roots um know that you know that this is where I come from.

26:05.34
Debbi
Um, of.

26:14.85
charukaarora
And this is for whoever I’m I am how that shapes it and I you know I remember I saw one of your fun of your portraits and you were wearing these black cow boy poots and you were standing in a um in a photograph along with your painting and my first thought. Was I Love her shoes and sometimes it’s so strange Sometimes what where what is so natural to us. Um, we do not feel as comfortable because we feel it’s like um.

26:37.74
Debbi
Um I sentence.

26:50.88
charukaarora
We are a bit different and sometimes that difference of who we are is actually our biggest strength that I feel in my own journey I didn’t I wanted to be like everyone else and I wouldn’t embrace that side of me and the moment that I started embracing who I am that made it a lot more.

26:57.66
Debbi
Um.

27:04.75
Debbi
Ah.

27:10.54
charukaarora
Easier for me and I started to find my own place and before that I really just I just couldn’t fit in.

27:19.45
Debbi
Um, yeah I think that’s a very very well said I mean it. It’s also funny because people will look at like the look like for you like Delhi versus like the place you were before like and they’ll just want to talk about the place you were before and like it’s and it’s funny as at a certain point i.

27:31.53
charukaarora
Yeah.

27:36.76
Debbi
Like I’ve I’ve only recently I’ve come to realize like I get a lot of questions about um, like oh how is you know all the northwest shaped your work because it it is a huge part of the influence for my work for sure and I’ve started to like get to this point where I’m like I’ve almost been here a decade like this is also who I am now too in the sense of.

27:50.69
charukaarora
Yeah, and that is what my second question now the following question was is actually this is where I was actually coming your work. Um is a lot of influence by how you grew grew up in a rural and in a homestead kind but now for the past nine years you’ve been living in a city.

27:56.29
Debbi
Yeah, yeah.

28:06.59
Debbi
Um.

28:10.60
Debbi
Yeah, yeah.

28:10.42
charukaarora
And it’s not like any other cities you’re like living in the New York city the most city anything can be The environment is vital the way you live. Your life is very different the way you work is very different. You know and I see this infrastructure difference like when I live between a metro city like a full-fluted like a hustle bustle main city like. Delhis capital of India and in a smaller town I can see a huge difference in the sense of you know, access to space access to resources people. You know you can even if like there’s the you can feel that difference and that like you know while so I have a studio in Delhi also. But when.

28:39.59
Debbi
Um.

28:45.80
Debbi
Um, but.

28:49.10
charukaarora
And I think I have access to a lot more resources to date that I didn’t have before in Delhi I could never make bigger works before because I never had this space and for if for where I but the moment I came back here during covid just because I could afford. A lot more cheaper rent and you know I had access to baker space. My work is grubica and like you know how these things like I don’t know I want to know like you know when you’re doing. Let’s say you’re stretching your own paths and like let’s say you’re doing that today.

29:11.00
Debbi
Um I.

29:22.40
charukaarora
But there would be a certain point where you started and maybe you didn’t had those things and access to space. So like you know how has these 2 environments like impacted you and how have you adjusted yourself around that.

29:29.65
Debbi
Yeah, well well so yeah, so I I mean New York city doesn’t have a lot of space. Um, it’s it’s funny because it’s like it’s known as like people talk about being the most diverse city in the world because it has like so many different pockets of different people. But it’s also like.

29:36.61
charukaarora
Yeah.

29:47.75
Debbi
It’s like I think it’s so I mean I don’t know how it relates to other like Delhi or other cities because actually my dehi might be denser but but for how it’s not so much that it’s so dense. It’s that it’s geographically so small like it’s really like you can bite anywhere in the city. Um, if you’re I mean if you’re into bike like I I’m into bikings so I can bike.

29:57.84
charukaarora
Okay, oh Wow. Okay, okay.

30:07.38
Debbi
Can bike for a while but but like people bike all the time here. It’s also really flat and so you can really like it’s a super small I mean it’s a big part of it. You know is an island and then part of the long Island and like I think that being in such a small. Place with so many people like you get everyone just has like this unsaid rule of like you have to get along versus like when you’re out somewhere more space like that’s when there’s a lot more like conflict I feel like because people are like this is my you know land.

30:34.14
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

30:45.17
charukaarora
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

30:46.41
Debbi
And you you stepped on my land like the five hundred feet that you away from me experience versus here. It’s like you’re you know you’re trying to like protect your side of a wall in an apartment. Um, and so I think I feel like um, it has definitely shaped my work. Um. Point that like if I moved you know to somewhere else like l a or something tomorrow I would talk about the influence that New York had on my work but I’m still kind of innov and here so I’m still processing it. But I do think that because the space is so dense I think a lot about like actual space.

31:13.61
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

31:25.24
Debbi
Um, in the sense I’ve had the same studio now for like 4 years and it’s not very big but it’s like really well built out so that it it works for me and it has a really tall ceiling. So I’ve been able to like you know have a lot of storage and um I think I’ve had to be so clever with space that. Now that extends into my paintings like I think a lot about um apes and like my paint my work has been shapes now for a while um which is kind of an engineering thing and I think I’m my my dad told me like Glasimau is home that he like.

31:46.47
charukaarora
Yeah I like that.

32:03.10
Debbi
When I was little he thought I had kind of an engineering brain. Um and I was like oh that’s interesting because I I do feel like space and like how humans occupy it is really like something I spend a lot of time thinking about um and you can’t not think about that when you’re in New York but

32:17.32
charukaarora
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

32:22.43
Debbi
I Would love to make big paintings like you though. But I don’t think I I mean I’m making some kind of big ones now but not here.

32:25.77
charukaarora
Ah, no, but I think I really liked your solution I remember like when I saw your work and how in fact, your work has intrigued me and you know I move a lot and even though it’s and I don’t work at 1 place and even though like.

32:38.12
Debbi
Feel.

32:45.21
charukaarora
If I am like where I am right now I would make bigger works here but I want my work to travel with me so that I don’t feel like you know, like for me, it’s also like not getting so attached to it. Um that I no longer want to make smaller work. But.

32:52.47
Debbi
You know.

32:59.72
Debbi
You want.

33:03.57
charukaarora
You know how my brain like you know I really want things to like you know in a process that they can keep going here and there with me because you know once you lose a connect. It’s like you have to you know you start like it’s ah it’s a conversation that has paused and then you have to restart and like you know so I really like your idea of like how you I remember reading 1

33:16.57
Debbi
Oh.

33:23.16
charukaarora
1 of the interview where you said like you know when you you went for an exhibit you really dismantled all your work into big suitcase and then you put your pickup piece together and that’s such a smarting analysi that actually is like a like a great idea like you know how you can also.

33:30.54
Debbi
Um.

33:36.63
Debbi
And.

33:39.77
charukaarora
How you can also bring together a vision of bigger work but also make it accessible in the sense of shipping traveling and storage and because there are so many unset things that you know, um that goes behind the scene like you know bigger works are.

33:41.99
Debbi
That is.

33:56.17
Debbi
I will.

33:59.22
charukaarora
Not are so hard to store so expensive to frame. Um, so hard to ship so hard to move from 1 place to another like you know all of these things come into play when you start think like you know, start making work like this and I think you had a great solution.

34:00.93
Debbi
Okay, go ahead.

34:16.25
charukaarora
Um, an approach towards you know, breaking that.

34:19.44
Debbi
Thank you? Yeah the ah do you know faith wrinkled work. She ah yeah I remember watching documentary about her and I used to work at a gallery that like represents her so I got to handle a lot of her pieces and I’m just like I love her work. But um, she.

34:23.85
charukaarora
Yes I do.

34:35.24
charukaarora
Me too.

34:38.37
Debbi
Know that at a certain point. You know she felt like she her work wasn’t being shown and it wasn’t she didn’t just feel that way. Um, and so she decided to kind of stop painting and work more just in a way that was she was able to work in her apartment and to travel with it. Um, and so I guess that’s kind of been. My approach a little bit too even though I’m still painting but that I want I want to be able to no matter if it sells or doesn’t or if it travels or doesn’t like I want to be able to like my my rule is that it has to in a car like so. Because I don’t want to rent a truck anymore. It’s a huge pain. So if it even if it’s like truck size. It has to break into pieces that could fit into a car. Um and I did a lot of puzzles growing up. Sorry I Love the like Modular. It’s a challenge to you more.

35:21.47
charukaarora
Yeah I like that. Oh yeah, you know when I was seeing your work when I was seeing your work and that’s how I actually work So I am I’m someone who really responds to materials and my process when I’m working with embroilties and you know, um, tailing things on top of each other.

35:34.25
Debbi
Um, never.

35:39.41
charukaarora
I have this habit of moving things like you know, seeing it from 1 angle and then another combination and another combination and like you know endlessly and when I saw your work I’m like there’s so many things that you like how 1 piece can have so many different ways and so many different stories and so many like visual stories. Um.

35:42.86
Debbi
Um, well.

35:58.39
charukaarora
And there’s never 1 right? answer like you. Um you just go with what you like.

35:58.41
Debbi
Um, oh.

36:04.69
Debbi
Yeah, yeah, it’s true I do and I yeah people have asked me like oh have you thought about making paintings that you could like rearrange and I’m like no because like they’re kind of they’re kind of set you know like I painted them that way for a reason but I it’s not that I think it’s an interesting idea but I just. My brain doesn’t work that way. It’s more like I’m like to the puzzle. Yeah, you know? yes.

36:23.34
charukaarora
No, but I think it’s also a really nice way like you know you as an artist have made something you’ve stuck it for yourself. But when someone who’s gotten that work and who’s viewing that work who’s buying that work. It’s like it’s like they also become a part of that creative process like.

36:36.67
Debbi
Are. Yeah, because they were together.

36:42.96
charukaarora
You know now once it’s taken a new life. It could it could shape take a shape of its own and who knows someone who’s bought your work may have translated into another way who knows.

36:56.24
Debbi
Yeah, and then and I think it’s I think part of the reason that type of painting way of painting came about is because I I Really the way I paint is kind of like putting a puzzle together because it is abstract and so like I don’t I don’t go in with like um. And’ll go in with like ah a picture I’m painting sometimes I sketch but even like say that I’m working from a sketch and I’m projecting it or I’m just working with pencil on canvas like that is still a sketch of something that I made with the same process of just like trying to imagine and work out a puzzle. Um.

37:29.19
charukaarora
Yeah.

37:31.98
Debbi
So no matter where no matter where the puzzling thing came from in the process. It’s It’s a big part of the work and so I think being able to imagine things that don’t currently exist is like a big, a big part of my work. Um.

37:44.95
charukaarora
Um, but tell me something were you always making abstract work.

37:52.68
Debbi
It’s a good question I did um, let’s see it’s an abstract for so long now. Um I I in undergrad I was doing figuration more I was doing self-portraits. Um, well I should say I started there and then I got.

37:58.27
charukaarora
Um, is.

38:08.63
Debbi
I went to like a really conceptual school. Um, and so I mean the West Coast kind of a lot of those schools have that you know that um reputation like cal arts for instance, but um I was doing portraiture and I got and I love paying the figure by the way I I feel like it’s the It’s a real soft spot for me. But um, it got to the point where I I felt like I was where I was stimulated like where I was really challenged was with things that I couldn’t um that I I couldn’t say you know it’s kind of like poetry versus like short story I was more interested in like the unknown and um, the. Had a teacher who she was. She’s still a good friend of mine and she’s like she’s wonderful, but she um she was like at the time seemed very out there for me because I come from a conservative background and so it was you know she would say things like oh it’s so hard to make an ugly piece I can’t believe you’ve done it. And she and she meant it as a compliment you know and then she would bring another student and be like do you see how ugly it is and they’d be like yeah, it’s really ugly. It’s really good and she like really pushed me to like think about like beauty in different ways until like at one point I was like making paintings of like.

39:06.43
charukaarora
Um.

39:22.81
Debbi
I was really into sailing so I was making paintings of like ah like leaves that were molded and in sailboats in the winter like zoomed in abstractions of them and I remember I was like taking a lot of photographs because I was doing black and white film photography and I’d I had like. It’s like kind of like you suddenly wake up and you’re like realizing what you’re doing like ah I was so far into it that ah I like woke up 1 moment because like my roommates came in and I had like filled ah our bathtub full of leaves and was like photographing it and they were like what are you doing Um, and and that was kind of when I was like all right.

39:42.78
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

39:57.27
Debbi
This is really cool, but this was like what school is supposed to do. It’s supposed to like try something different. Um, but from their core.

40:04.56
charukaarora
But that’s you know what? even I think but I think your teacher was I mean um, nice or far even to I mean of course we have our own translations but otherwise people would be like you know.

40:17.20
Debbi
Um, think of.

40:18.99
charukaarora
How there’s like a huge um backage of like in in traditional schools where they they’ll tell you to make things a certain way how they look and like you know definition of beauty and like you know so I think it was also quite ah liberating for um and how she’s like you know.

40:26.69
Debbi
Yes.

40:33.85
Debbi
Um, yeah.

40:38.41
charukaarora
How she put it for you because I think I also had this and this became a barrier for me so when I I come from fashion design like you know I I worked in digital and I still work. Do a lot of digital work but not in the arts per se anymore. Um I had this like if you see my if you see my um. Work the beginning work. It’s like perfectivity and I had this huge back. Its like I have to be a good artist to be good I had to like really like I couldn’t leave anything unfinished I couldn’t um. I had this huge urge that I had to finish everything to perfection and it I am somewhat that way even today I think now. But though I see things on a surface level and I’m like I’m I’m ok with. When you go in like even my recent body of work which I just showed. Um so the paintings. Um, they’re embellished jewelry and you know so when you look on the outer. They are very fell polished pieces and like and and they have this ah very put together sharp look but the moment you start going going in.

41:49.81
Debbi
Um, oh.

41:53.89
charukaarora
That’s when you start seeing the strokes you know the imperfections and the more closer you go the more character you can see and it took me a really long time for me to embrace that because we also come with this pressure like you know, um, things have to look us out in way and when now you’re seeing skipping the thought. But also now when you’re saying sailing I I remember the last work that you’ve posted and I can see how sailing has a huge impact on your work. You know the star. Um, you know that and it’s this.

42:16.12
Debbi
Um, but and.

42:22.79
Debbi
Yeah, yeah I hadn’t thought about that. Yeah, the stars are a different or are more like yeah, it’s interesting you. There’s something there because I did look at a lot about yeah what? yeah well so I’ve been working with stars for a long time.

42:29.83
charukaarora
I Don’t know what you call that shape like you know how I I haven’t done sailing or.

42:42.24
Debbi
No, and dont I so a long time a recent amount of time. Um, because I started I’ve been working with quilting blocks as like the the shapes that’s where I get my shapes from for this last like year I’ve been focusing in on that which has been a really fun way to like pay tribute to like. You know the history I grew up with and also I’m just really fascinated with it and it feels like I’m exploring ah a past of mine and a past of humanity. But the stars I’m like I’m trying to focus in for this series just on stars because I want um, it’s been nice to like Zoom in even more and also you know things with like the planet and everything of. Been going so good and so it’s been nice to like you know I’m a very empathetic person and I I I feel everything so deeply I think that’s part of being an artist and so when I when I see that you know listen to the news or just like feel. You know what’s going on in our time i.

43:24.59
charukaarora
Yeah.

43:36.57
Debbi
Can be very heavy and so it’s been nice to like scientifically research something a little different than just like you know plant an apocalypse and look upward more and I’ve been learning about like um astronomy and like the stars and um, it’s It’s really.

43:40.47
charukaarora
Yeah.

43:53.31
Debbi
It kind of makes me feel good because I feel much smaller and I also feel like um, well and and it’s like even even if we even if we’ve like messed up the planet. Ah really terribly like it’s just one planet.

43:55.14
charukaarora
Yeah I love that. That’s also something I feel about oceans.

44:11.48
Debbi
You know there’s a lot I’m not not I mean who knows if there’s other life out there. But I just mean like as far as like the universe goes like I guess I feel like can be really heavy. So it’s nice to to look up a bit more but what I was going to say about the sailing is that I did I did sail for a long time.

44:16.30
charukaarora
How big it is.

44:28.27
Debbi
Was a big part of my life I sailed in high school and college competitively. Um, but that was that was kind of separate from my art life. But I think it taught me a lot of things about art like it taught me how to be a community member. It taught me how to um how to have ah an athletic.

44:30.10
charukaarora
While.

44:45.46
Debbi
Like mindset when it comes to getting what I want like like success or like you know like ambition. Yeah taught me to work hard and to like yeah and so I it definitely relates but it is I don’t think sailing is a huge part. Yeah.

44:49.12
charukaarora
Um, go getting and more and resource to.

44:57.00
charukaarora
But I think it has a usual I now I didn’t know about this about you but I feel like I can I can spot that part of you in in your work which will is better. Yeah.

45:04.66
Debbi
Yeah, help.

45:10.81
Debbi
Yeah I think it’s in there somewhere? Yeah nothing I paint is really a direct thing you know like yeah I’m using these quilted shapes. But even those are kind of abstracted stars. But but I you know there’s like it’s kind of like poems. You know there’s there’s little um.

45:15.34
charukaarora
Yeah.

45:23.52
charukaarora
There’s so many meanings. Yeah, yeah, yeah, oh my god thank you so much Debbie it was so so nice talking to you and I I could we could go on.

45:27.14
Debbi
There’s a little hints of things in there little feelings.

45:33.52
Debbi
Yeah, yeah, the answer. Yeah yeah, let me know shoot.

45:38.20
charukaarora
But I have a little rapid fire before I let you go okay here we go 1 2 3 okay describe your love for art in 1 word.

45:53.30
Debbi
My what art? Sorry oh love for art, um color color.

45:53.49
charukaarora
Might your love for art in 1 word.

46:00.68
charukaarora
Um, sorry color. Oh yes, Definitely Um, what has been the best piece of advice you have been given by another artist.

46:17.33
Debbi
Um, um, criticism is no sorry comparison is the killer of joy.

46:27.20
charukaarora
Yeah, that’s true. Okay, what do you think is the most important skill you have learned in your own kative journey as an artist.

46:41.70
Debbi
Um I think um resilience like learning to be resilient to keep to keep going.

46:47.78
charukaarora
Now definitely for sure. Yeah, okay, what has been the most rewarding moment for you as an art artist I’m sure there and must have been money but can you share any anyone that you feel like Omar that was very special to you.

47:07.24
Debbi
Um.

47:12.70
Debbi
That’s good question I think maybe um I did a trip to London last year I was part of a residency and that was my first like inner wasn’t my first international residency but was my first one being. Ah.

47:27.81
charukaarora
Are.

47:29.99
Debbi
Just like associated with a program I really like respected and that was that was really great and just being in London was cool. So probably that.

47:37.22
charukaarora
Okay, 1 last question, what advice do you have for artists who are listening to this and also for because we’re a women focus platform and 90% of our audience is women. What do you have.

47:40.56
Debbi
Are.

47:51.39
Debbi
A wolf.

47:54.27
charukaarora
Um, any advices for all of us.

47:58.43
Debbi
Um, um, let’s see I think um, well maybe I’ll extend this one a little bit longer. But I think to circle back to what we did with um that um Instagram takeover.

48:07.20
charukaarora
No ah problems.

48:13.31
charukaarora
Yeah, yes.

48:15.49
Debbi
Remember that we talked. Yeah, so I think the reason that the posts I made resonated so much is they were really honest because I remember what I did I I was like listen like statistically yeah, everybody looks at me and they’re like Debbie you did a residency this year you did 2 residencies this year like you’re doing so well and like.

48:20.74
charukaarora
Yes.

48:35.28
Debbi
Basically what I did is I posted these slides that were like statistics of my own art career and I was like I’ve made I’ve applied to like 40 residencies this year and I’ve gotten like 1 and I just wanted to make it clear that like it was you know it’s an it’s kind of a numbers game but it’s also like a perseverance game.

48:54.30
charukaarora
Um, yeah.

48:54.30
Debbi
And um I think as an artist. It’s really important to just to realize that like even the people that are really successful that have all these sales and everything like they are also like you know experiencing what we call failure but we could also say you know failures.

49:09.78
charukaarora
Um, yeah learnings. Yeah.

49:13.43
Debbi
Part of course and to just keep going I I think the same is or I think a little like offshoot of that that I would add for like woman artists or or people that identify as woman is that it’s important to ask for things that you don’t think you should ask for because that is something I.

49:27.00
charukaarora
No I left us.

49:32.99
Debbi
Split with men artists. They just ask for things and they get them and they took me a long time to to realize that like oh I want I want to have a solo show there I’m just going to ask because they probably want to give me 1 or like oh I want to like have you know if it’s someone I’ve been working with or like oh I want to like. Be part of this group show or I’m going to ask where I want to be like I’m going to apply just to to to the worst that can happen as they say no right? So like but put yourself out there more and don’t um, don’t be so afraid if it doesn’t work out because that’s you learn more when it.

50:01.32
charukaarora
Didn’t know. Yeah yeah I Love this advice I Love this advice and I want to add something on top of this as a research I read and I’d really like that and it was like.

50:11.41
Debbi
Yeah, he won.

50:17.33
charukaarora
Um, so the research said that um so it was I think a Harvard research or something and it said like I don’t exactly know what it was but it said something like this I don’t quote me on this. Um that women have a hard time being rejected.

50:28.26
Debbi
Oh.

50:34.84
Debbi
Of children.

50:35.96
charukaarora
Um, and asking for things is because how how culturally and in a society has a we’ve grown up men have meant since the day like you know they’re born and like you know how they grow up they are they have. They’re raised in a way that they’re always the go out and when they go out like anybody else is respective of our genders. There will always be times where you will be accepted and there will always be times you will be rejected and I think the research was specifically when it came to um. Um, came to K women and career and all of that and that um, how the so the difference was that men got so used to sins growing up that they would put themselves out there and. In that process they had Also you know build the nerve to get rejected and get back and um, not take things too seriously and too emotionally and too closely versus as a society women have been held back and by the time that we actually put ourselves forward. Ah.

51:39.80
Debbi
Are.

51:50.60
charukaarora
We it takes like you know I think in this in a sense I’m trying to say like a journey start on a very different level like a woman. Maybe a girl who’s grown up much later. You know we are like I grew up in a city like and I my brother and I actually grew up with same age.

51:56.34
Debbi
With us.

52:07.26
charukaarora
And we grew up very differently. We had very different approaches because as a woman growing up as a girl growing up I wasn’t allowed for a lot of things which my brother was and his confidence and his approach and his risk taking and all of this had grown much. He’d become more.

52:08.10
Debbi
Um, level.

52:25.98
charukaarora
A cue like you know more adaptive to it rather than when I started I was much older because that is when I had that you know that accessibility. So I really liked this idea like you know said like and I remember another interview with someone. Um.

52:30.65
Debbi
Um, yeah, are.

52:43.75
charukaarora
She’s she’s a wonderful person really successful a fashion designer here in India she’s like you know Ben women so she has a very like a all girlss team and she’s like ah so she said like you know women come to me with you know, shaking voices and they’re very scared when they’re asking for a raise.

53:01.80
Debbi
Um I will.

53:02.95
charukaarora
Versus mentored like they feel like they like it is theirs and she’s like I keep telling my team that you know you have the right? no matter who you are to ask for a race. It does not mean you’re a woman or not and I have a right to say? no if it does not suit me.

53:05.40
Debbi
Yeah, let’s turn.

53:15.76
Debbi
Um, us yeah.

53:20.50
Debbi
Um, yes, yeah, yeah, yeah.

53:21.97
charukaarora
But just the difference of level and how anxious it makes girls and women is because we have never had the habit of asking for more and we have also societally you know to settle for where we are who we are what we are given like and I think that’s changing and I only hope that it changes and you know we are.

53:39.50
Debbi
Ah know I hope so well something I want to add on add on to that that ties into this is that I think that especially for people that identify as woman like um I mean I love all art time on a huge you know I’m obsessed. You know.

53:41.97
charukaarora
Go get who whatever we want to.

53:59.19
Debbi
Guilty as charge but I will have to admit that I am if I look at the artists that I am fond of from now and from the past it’s like probably 80% woman and I I don’t think I’m alone in that and I think that woman should know that because like when you when it’s harder to survive you.

54:02.17
charukaarora
Um.

54:08.43
charukaarora
Same yeah.

54:18.14
charukaarora
Yeah.

54:18.76
Debbi
Makes you more creative and I think there are a lot of talent men out there too and I have a lot of male artist friends that are like killing it and I love their works. That’s not to say that one is better but I don’t I think that if it’s a confidence issue they should know that like if you can just keep going and get the work out there like the let we see through as woman is.

54:32.53
charukaarora
Yeah.

54:38.60
Debbi
Really beautiful and we need to see more of that and when it’s actually brought to the attention galleries. It does well and so I think it’s just an issue of keep going and demand. What’s yours. And yeah of course.

54:39.54
charukaarora
Um, yeah, yeah, yeah.

54:49.26
charukaarora
I love that I love that. Thank you so much Debbie. Thank you so much for the wonderful conversation and before I let you go? How can we find you share your work support you and if you have anything coming up.

54:56.81
Debbi
Yeah, really nice. Wow yes I for asking? Um, yeah, thanks for asking I um, well I have a website. Um, it’s my name plus art so Debbie keynote art. Com and there’s no my name is spelled a little weird for those that don’t know there’s no e on the end of Debbie, it’s just Debb I and my last name is pronounced like keynote like a keynote speaker but there’s no why let’sing a couple others and my Instagram handle is the same It’s just Debbie keynote on Instagram um.

55:29.87
charukaarora
Um, so.

55:33.50
Debbi
That’s the only social media I have but I do posts like once every couple weeks I try and be regular about it. But you know I’m busy. But yeah, but definitely follow me on the or a lot of other people’s work too on my stories because I I believe in that and supporting your friends and I go out to see a lot of art because.

55:38.27
charukaarora
No.

55:51.91
charukaarora
Yes, Absolutely yeah, yeah, it is it comes as a package. Thank you, Thank you so much debie and I hope to see you soon again.

55:52.40
Debbi
Can’t not go out living in New York City like you know, part of the rent right. Um, yes, they will well yes, sounds good. This been great. Enjoy the rest of your day.

56:08.16
charukaarora
Thank you? okay.

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