From PSBB, Chennai to Pratt Institute, New York, Anjali Chandrashekar has literally designed her own destiny. This 22 year New York- based designer and artist recently got two of her designs selected from over 4000 entries for the official 2016 United Nations campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. But this is just her latest achievement. This young girl keeps pioneering towards the change every one of us hopes to see.
At the age of 12, Anjali first got recognized at the global level for her work on disaster management, which was chosen to be part of a calendar for UNISDR in 2005. It was called – “Learning to Live with Risk” by the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.
On the challenges she faced,
“It took me a while for people to start taking my work seriously. At first, it was more my age that was a barrier than anything. I think the thoughts that I translated into my work were heavily invested in research and an empathetic understanding of the subject matter of the campaign that I would work on. This helped in making my work more approachable and relatable to audiences.”
‘Picture it’ was a social project which evolved as she started using art as a platform to voice her opinion and create awareness about various issues.
Some of her notable works include the logo she designed for the 27th International Quark Matter Conference to be held in 2017. Her artwork was published by the UNEP for the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010. She also had the honor of being chosen as a youth representative and had the opportunity to speak about her work as the youngest participant at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2011.
When asked about her idol, she said she draws inspiration from all kinds of artists and thinkers. She looks up to artists like Raghava KK who is disrupting the definition of an artist and maker. She is also very excited and intrigued by the socially inclined and thought provoking work of artists like Ai Wei Wei and Banksy.
Here are a few excerpts from the conversation with her:
Social cause closest to you:
“I believe everything is interlinked. We all need tolerance to cope up with the changes in today’s world. Gender issues, humanitarian issues in general, climate change; it all boils down to the need for a change in people’s mindsets. Looking at the larger picture, all of this is interconnected and people need to be more exposed to these issues for change to happen.
I think there are a lot of social issues that we can tangibly tackle in our everyday lives. Gender parity, tolerance to race, religion and sexual orientation can start young and start at home. These solutions are much more achievable to individuals than say issues of nuclear disarmament and in fact they can contribute more significantly to our goal of peace and understanding.
“ I am a feminist. Men and women, and everyone in between who are figuring it out, need the respect, support and equal treatment that every human born into this planet deserves. It is hard to completely know how it feels, but the difference lies in making an effort to be empathetic and open-minded.
“ I know I am me. I think like a lady, but the definition of ‘lady’ is defined by me and not what society thinks it is or is supposed to be. I don’t believe in binary personalities, I love people who are breaking barriers and stereotypes. How people love is interesting. I don’t let myself think about the “should be” and I want to craft my own identity and I am open to everything. Gender is fascinating to me. Being understood is not a joke, and society should not let gender be a criteria to be treated differently.”
The accolades she has received over the years are as follows:
Global Teen Leader, 2013 conferred by the We Are Family Foundation, New York
She was a Speaker & Participant at the World Economic Forum, Switzerland, 2011
Scholar, The Global Education and Leadership Foundation, India, 2011
She was recognized as a Global Changemaker in 2010 by British Council, London.
As she signs off, this is her message to our readers,
“Everyone has a story, women and men alike. I think it’s important to find that inner voice no matter what it is, channel it positively and share it with the world.”