In Conversation With Inspiring

Goal isn’t to keep us out: Diayan Rajamohan talks about his journey as an artist and Inclusivity

Diayan Rajamohan is a phenomenal abstract painter who creates immersive arts. His beautiful works adorn the Starbucks coffee shops in Taylor St, Chicago, Illinois and in many more places to make people happy and curious. Diayan is a Tamil artist, born in Toronto, Canada in 1993. He pursues creative art, music and poetry and believes in the say, “Be alive while you live”. He battled with cancer at 17. He is a stunning fashion model who is shattering the gender norm in Tamil fashion, pursuing abstract art as a meditative process. He is pursuing his Anthropological major and sets his goal to pursue law to advocate childcare in justice system.

Diayan, who goes by the pronoun he/his, is a firm member of queer community. He makes sure to call out the heteronormality behaviour of capitalist businesses in society where there is only less or no representation of inclusivity. He believes the capitalism power could to be harnessed to put it in use to educate ourselves of inclusivity. Here he is answering our curious questions about his journey as an artist.

Why abstract painting? What do you like to convey through your art?

Abstract paintings have always piqued my interest because of how they convey a very different message to different people. Our individual experiences help to shape our views and that applies to art as well. When abstract art and paintings do not create a clear path, it allows our own minds to put pieces together in order to complete the story. When I paint my own abstract art, I enjoy putting the pieces of my own story together, but the excitement lies in the viewer’s journey. What I once saw while painting a piece may evoke a totally different emotion for someone else. With my art, my goal is to get the viewers to think – about life, about movement – anything really. It even helps to build our critical thinking abilities. 

This pandemic situation puts a halt for all your art exhibits. How do you keep yourself motivated to continue your passion?

If I’m being completely honest, my painting process has grinded to a halt in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. My art initially stems from my anxiety as a way to ease stress in my everyday life. At the beginning of this pandemic, I felt that it was odd that my art could not save me but slowly, I’m learning that this pandemic is not our normal lives and that if I cannot paint, that’s quite alright. I often find myself screenshotting images of nature on my phone that I’d like to recreate or sketching ideas for my next canvas. Otherwise, the magic will stay in my head for a little longer.

You stunningly broke the gender stereotypes in Tamil fashion. Tell us about the birth of that photo-shoot idea.

With my gender-bending project, I wanted to help re-write the rules of fashion. Since sarees are seen as woman’s clothing and gender-bending within the Thamil community is frowned upon, I wanted to create a space and facilitate conversation and understanding that I can wear what I want regardless of the traditional gender expectations in fashion and still feel connected to my heritage, my culture and my people.

Men are not often shown in sarees through photography and fashion editorial art because the stigma about Queer people is already so heavily threatening; its oppressive nature does what it was intended to do – keep us quiet.

As a member of the Queer community, I feel that there is little to no representation for South Asian Queer children. Growing up, the Queer, Brown people we saw on television were used as jokes and comedic punchlines. There were no gay, Brown boys who grew up to live socially acceptable lives, with partners they loved and families they raised within the white picket fence. My goal is to show the world that we do in fact exist and fashion was the way I figured we would start addressing this concern. It is only the tip of the iceberg.

I have always admired the saree – its beauty, the work that went into making them and the culture they boast. With this project, I am hoping to open people’s eyes about why taking gender out of fashion is extremely crucial in understanding and accepting people of all ethnicities and cultures.

From battling cancer to shining as an amazing artist to being one of the many loudest voices that asserts the importance of inclusivity and calling out hetero-normative behaviours in society, tell us the magic you hold on to keep on going?

I am holding on to the hope that one day, the fight for representation slowly fizzles away. I hope that someday, we are accurately and equally represented in the media, in literature and in art. I hope that children will grow in neighborhoods where they do not have to fear being different or fear for their safety as a result of being different. I hope that who we are is celebrated and not demonized. I hold on to the idea that if I suffer a little now to “come out”, be out and take on the hurtful comments, maybe someone in the future would not have to. I guess the magic I hold on to is the many possibilities that the future holds.

Tell us about shattering the inhibitions like when you play the music like no one is watching, introducing you to yourself everyday by adding new things to love to feel alive while you liv

I have always been a creative person and truly enjoy art, music and writing. “Do it like no one is watching” is extremely clichéd but if we did things for our own happiness, we would enjoy the peace they brought without feeling judgement. Playing the piano and singing is another great escape for me. I was a shy singer until I was 17, standing on my high school stage during lunch time. I was behind the curtain and no one was around, so I belted my note and hit it. For the first time, I realized that if I sang quietly because I was afraid of what people would think, they would miss out on the raw emotion that I could share when I sang from my heart but more importantly, I would rob myself of the amazing feeling I had experienced moments ago.  

An amazing abstract painter, a confident fashion model – tell us where you steer your life from here. What’s the ultimate goal?

Ultimately, my goal is to work as a child and youth advocate. For a long time, I felt that I would follow a path of education and teach high school, but over the past few years, there has been a yearning for immediate change. I feel that our childcare system is in need of a strong shift and I’d like to be a part of that. I someday hope to find families for children and want to work to build the Queer community and extend representation for people of color. I am not quite sure where my current endeavors will take me, but I have learned that life has a mind of its own and everything usually works out in the end.

All the very best for the future achievements!

Image Courtesy: Daiyan Rajamohan Instagram Handle

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