“What is your ‘elephant in the room’?” with Bhavisha Patel

Self-taught artist and InLiquid artist member Bhavisha Patel carries with her a remarkable set of identities and life experiences that informs her art and her philosophical approach. Ethnically Indian, born and raised in Kenya, educated in England, and now living in Philadelphia, Bhavisha’s work is markedly multicultural. As a former personal injury lawyer for 20 years prior to a train-track accident and five year recovery period that precipitated her career change, Bhavisha speaks from personal insight when she says, “I am at my happiest when I’m creating [art].” As a self-taught artist, Bhavisha is curious, imaginative, and always exploring new concepts and mediums.

Bhavisha first heard about InLiquid from a member of her Naudain Street Art Collaborative who recommended that she join. “InLiquid has been an amazing space to have a voice as an artist.” “[They] do an amazing job of marketing your artists. I love InLiquid’s opportunities page – that’s how I found out about the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Competition.”

“When I first started, I didn’t know how to use any of the mediums or any elementary rules of art. I just started painting. Then, I gradually started to learn how to become a better drawer,” aided by books, observation, experimentation, and practice. While Bhavisha’s work spans Buddhism, animal rights, and traditional landscapes, currently Bhavisha is exploring tree bark art, oil paintings of pandemic-inspired empty cityscapes, and watercolor illustration for her upcoming children’s book.

One of Bhavisha’s more recent projects has been her work with tree bark. “I collect tree bark, I treat it, press it to make it flat, then mount it, and paint on it with oils. August is bark harvest time for me and my basement is full of bark.” She has also done work directly relating to the pandemic in the form of empty cityscapes that she painted as a representation of the isolation felt by artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. “When I finally had courage to go out into the city [after the pandemic began] [Philadelphia] was so empty that you could see designs and patterns that you could never see before when there were people and cars around. It was a new kind of experience.”

Bhavisha has also been working on a series called Elephant in the Room in which she paints elephants in unusual settings like in Times Square or in front of the London Bridge. Most of her elephant paintings depict an old bull elephant with a broken tusk that she encountered roaming alone in her childhood backyard, Amboseli National Park in Kenya. Her goal is to challenge city residents to think about climate change, the preservation of animals and all life on Earth, and specifically the harms of elephant poaching. More broadly, she asks her audience:

“What is your elephant in the room? What do you want to be an activist about?”

Bhavisha is also passionate about teaching young artists: “What is important as a self-taught artist is that you are always learning yourself, [so] when you start explaining things and breaking them down, especially for children, you have to understand them, ingest them, and be able to demonstrate them.” For young artists, Bhavisha shares the following message: “Dare to be boldly creative. Understand that there are no mistakes in art. You just have to put your heart into it and tell your story.”

When you support InLiquid, you connect local artists with audiences throughout the greater Philadelphia area, and around the world.

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