My earthly journey started in Washington DC. Arts came early to me as I doodled figments of my imagination. But thanks to my South Asian heritage I was forced to pick the sciences over arts in middle school. I dropped the pencil for good.
I spent most of my childhood in India and survived the genocidal massacre of thousands of Sikhs in 1984 in cities across the country. The video below is my testimony at a ‘Religious Freedom in India’ briefing in the US Capital from November 2018.
I moved back to the US after high school and faced the challenge of identity crisis, bullying and labels being placed upon me all my life. I gave up my Sikh identity to go a search for finding my place on this planet.
Through college at University of California, Santa Barbara studying biology/anthropology and graduate school at University of California, Berkeley studying Epidemiology/Biostatistics, I fell in love with books. Words became my time machine, my savior and guide. I eventually fell in love with eastern philosophy especially Buddhism and Taoism. That finally led me to the faith of my parents, the Sikh path.
The 9/11 attacks in United States and the subsequent hate crime wave adversely affecting many Sikhs along with many communities created the ripe conditions for an artistic spark. Inspired by the creative response of American editorial cartoonists to the tragic events and one specific cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Mark Fiore, I started creating turbanful cartoons focusing on Sikh news, happenings and contradictions..
I worked as a software engineer by day for fifteen years while I created cartoons by night.
Creating Sikh turbans and beards is not that hard. I created a feature on The Guardian to help with this task, How to draw… a bearded and turbaned Sikh.
Cartooning led to an unimaginable new fork in the road, Cosplay, performance art with me dressing up as Captain America.
The graphic above capturing my life journey was recorded live during my keynote talk at Graland Country Day School in Denver by Kriss Whittmann.
The following radio interview with Dick Gordon gives more background into the motivation for cartooning and performance art.