Milwaukee-based artist Geramin Sebastian La Brie says she comes home to Bangalore every year as it keeps her anchored

India is one of the biggest influences in graphic designer-turned artist Geramin Sebastian La Brie's art and life. “Though I live in America, my roots in Bangalore keep me anchored. Every year, it is important for me to return to my roots. The way people react to my works here really reaches out to my soul. I don't find the same sense of comfort and belongingness abroad,” says Germain, whose latest works were on display at the Renaissance Gallerie last week.

Geramin was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in India. She currently lives and works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where her artwork is on display at the “Creative Expressions” gallery.

The Indian influences are not so obvious in the current series of work as they were in the previous one, where the motifs, themes and figures were highly ‘Eastern', especially in works such as “Dussehra at the Mysore Palace” and “Kandy Perahara-Sri Lanka”.

Her latest works, in acrylic, are largely composed in soothing shades of blue, purple, white and a touch of yellow with repeating motifs of a woman, birds, and water, always appearing like characters from fairly tales. “My works are symbolic, in the sense that, there is a story behind each painting. For instance, ‘Lotus Eater' (which shows a woman standing in a pool of lotus flowers next to a bird), is about a woman I know who lost her son. She found comfort in growing lotuses. The bird in the painting represents her son. I tend to express myself largely through birds, water and animals,” explains Geramin, who admires the work of artists such as George Keyt, Milind Nayak and Yusuf Arakkal.

About the Indian influence she says: “It's because my thought process is India. Paintings in the West are usually flat and straight and hardly symbolic.”

The ‘birds' in the work titled ‘Immersed in the water'; where a mother and daughter are shown playing the piano in water, speaks about the daughter who will ‘fly away one day'.

“I loved working on computers and I was good at graphic design, I used to work on brochures and ad campaigns, but there is nothing like painting. Whatever you do on the computer, you cannot put soul into your works. Plus, painting is hard work and it is the best form of therapy. I can paint for 12 hours straight, it's like soul-searching where you get more in touch with yourself,” muses Geramin.

Though Geramin went to art school in Milwaukee, she attributes her skill to her mother-in-law, also an artist. Geramin's work, always figurative, is symbolic of her thoughts and feelings at that point in time and is therefore spontaneous. Her spontaneity has also been tempered and channelled through age.

“I'm at a stage where I can express myself better than I could when I was in my 20s or 30s. When you are young, you go through experiences but you are numb to expression. The older you become, you start getting to know yourself much better.”

Though she started painting only about four years ago, Geramin hopes to be a known as a “Indian-American” artist one day. “India comes first because it is on one of the oldest civilizations in the world and it has come so far in 60 years of independence and America gives me freedom. I want to take the best of both worlds.”