Artist Statement/CV

Artist Statement

Interdisciplinary Arts & Media MFA Thesis

Real life stories have always danced with my imagination. Stories from my childhood in India to my life now in America often integrate with each other. The integration at times shapes itself as fiction and at times autobiographical. The themes that are recurring in my work are about the search for something lost or forgotten, the need to find a home, the struggle of fitting in or fitting out. I explore these ideas and themes through Indian classical dance, experimental Modern movement and visual images using pastel, acyrlic and watercolor paints. 

I am interested in understanding and exploring the ideas of ‘Traditional’ and ‘Classical’. I am exploring the idea of Indian Classical traditions and how they can be pushed in terms of the content and form other than concepts from Hindu Mythology. My work is a hybrid between Indian Classical dance and use of other dance influences. I use this hybrid movement-based language that has Indian Classical at its core to gradually build a pyramid of ideas on a canvas starting with pastel or acyrlic paints. As an interdisciplinary fine artist, I am more of a process-based artist than obsessing over how the end product might take a final shape. However, as the other side of my art practice, my focus stays on the idea of the viewer’s gaze which is the integral part of any art discipline to make sure the end art product does not divert away from what I am really trying to say in that particular art work.       


Shalaka Kulkarni is a trained dancer in two Indian Classical dance forms- Bharatnatyam and Kathak. She started her dance journey in India at a very young age and continued that when she moved to Chicago.  She has presented her work at festivals and venues like Dance Chicago 2004-2007, Stockyards Women Festival, Loyola University of Chicago, for Kalapriya Dance Company, Harper College, Depaul University, Columbia College Chicago, Prop Theatre and for FIA Chicago. She is the winner of the 2005 Dance Chicago Outstanding Award for her work, “Untamed”. She was commissioned to develop new work for Chicago Cultural Center through their 2007 Dance Bridge residency program. She received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago.