ProperGaanda’s venture of ‘Young Creatives’ sheds light on individuals that are shaping their own unique path through a society that has long faired on traditional values passed down through generations. In a sea of people akin to a school of fish riding the same wave, we focus our lens on individuals who have dared to step out of the box and let their voice break through the humdrum noise that is daily monotony. However, for some, there was no box to break at all
One such example of a free-spirited artistic bird is Ujala Hayat. She has a deep interest in psychology and recently graduated from NCA with a honours degree in Fine Arts. She is also a team member at ProperGaanda and through her artistic expression, she wants to discover serenity with the strokes of the paintbrush on canvas.
We sat down to have a conversation about her love for the arts, painting, and the imaginative soul she is currently discovering; through her paintings, she creates a dialogue on social constructs and their meaning.
“A supremely shy and socially awkward girl with a very small circle of friends. Not very verbally expressive yet very emotional, I like to keep to myself. I love reading so much that I can read for days without sleep (if the reading is non-academic, of course).
Books are my way out of social scenarios. I don’t like stepping out of my comfort zone. I love being around nature. I enjoy physical exercise every other day, which mostly means bicycling, kickboxing, or rollerblading. I have a deep interest in psychology, and I have spent most of my free time volunteering. I am very very fond of special children, being around them and helping them gives me a purpose. I’m really bad with spatial perception, hence I can get lost on the same campus a hundred times.” As we began our conversation, this is how Hayat wants the world to know her.
On her Instagram page, Hayat, described herself as:
“Twenty two year old girl in her last year of university, the eldest daughter in the family, the fine artist amongst an over-achieving super smart family, introvert, and to top it all, the middle child. That’s a lot of not-so-fun qualifications.”
“I think this is my permanent period of life, haha!”
“I can’t really quote an exact story from my childhood, but the main reason for everything is literally my parents. They have always been so encouraging. Whether my teachers told them that I would flunk my exams, or they got a call from the headmaster saying I had written nothing in my O’levels mock exam but my name, they would always say this to me, “It’s okay, as long as you didn’t cheat, it’s okay to not know the answers, and it’s okay as long as you tried”.
The time they spent reading to me, listening to my lame creative writing stories over and over again. Letting me sneak time out of math homework, to work on cartoon drawings, and showing off my (what I now see as horrific) scribbles to their friends proudly, only to always make me feel accepted, comfortable, and loved. Even now, the way they deal with the ‘haw-hayes’ of our society is to just let me be. And they are truly the reason why I am.”
“I recently graduated from NCA with honours, majoring in Fine Art. I’ve changed schools almost every year of my life, since my father was from the armed forces. I had to take up sciences in my O’levels, since there were no art or business subjects offered in the city at the time. I think studying subjects I had no interest in made me more passionate and sure about what direction I really wanted to pursue. And although changing teachers so often took a toll on my grades, I think studying in so many different places made me more empathetic, and accepting towards new social customs, and behaviors. It made me focus more on learning, accepting and listening, and made me more flexible as a person. It also broadened my network and horizons”, says Hayat
“I think the two moments you are incredibly happy and proud are, one when you get into NCA and two; when you get out of it. I don’t think I have words to describe everything in between”, remarks Hayat on her university experience.
“I love talking about the dirt that’s usually brushed under the carpet. I find myself deeply interested in why people do what they do, why certain things are considered normal while the slightest shift from it, a sin. I think my biggest interest is understanding my social context and creating a dialogue with it. This does not necessarily require me to come to a conclusive generalization, but just offer a deliberate ruckus of the normal perception.”
“Every day matters. Social commentaries and peoples’ behaviors.”
“My biggest motivation is understanding the complexities within my own dialogue, and how one source of work feeds the other. I enjoy the conversation it continues to make. I have always wanted to open a school/living facility for underprivileged children and abandoned elderly members of the society. It’s a long-term goal that I feel keeps me motivated to work harder and keep going every single day.”
“I believe in order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion, and I feel my imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people. But I don’t think this notion applies to all artists, as some thrive in the company of others while others thrive in solitude.”
Tell us the story behind your Tumbler blog titled, “Dumbo The Elephant”?
“I was bullied a LOT, throughout my school days, not only by students but by teachers too. A lot of people called me aujala dumbo, or tube light for ‘fun’, I wasn’t exactly the brightest kid on the block. This was one of my favourite films growing up; I found confidence in dumbo, who too, was ridiculed for being a little different. It kind of stuck around for me. Now, I guess Dumbo the Elephant is sheer sarcasm, because well, I’m the size of a twig, and I’m not all that dumb either.”
“Books are my closest friends. My go-to’s and my way out of everything I do not want to deal with. Art, whether pictorial or written, is the only language I feel I can comfortably communicate in. And food, well, I just love to eat!”
“Um, yes, like I mentioned earlier, my work is my mode of communication. It mostly does reflect on my personal beliefs and thought process, and observations from my surroundings. I don’t think ‘dark’ is the word I would use to describe it, but its just a different take on things than the norm you might be accustomed to.”
“I recently completed my thesis, which initiated from my fear of pregnancy. I hold this body of work very close to my heart. While I was openly talking about how I considered pregnancy as an invasion, more commonly seen as a gift, a miracle, and a blessing, I was constantly reminded of shaping my opinion to please everyone. My work then started to become a silent mockery of the system that I am inevitably a part of. It mocks not only the glorified perception of pregnancy but also the visual usually accepted as ‘real art’ by the general public, hence the idea of drawing-room paintings.”
“I played around the feeling of inhibition taking into account the social commentary around me. The various self-portraits looking at myself from a third person perspective revolving around the theme “Hold still while we do your portrait. So you can begin looking like it right away’. I feel that womanhood, for me, does not come effortlessly, it is something I need to study, learn and imitate. Hence the paintings show a playful repetition of the same thing; a cycle of imitation, objectification, and self-objectification. This thesis landed me a few exhibitions, which I can not wait to start working on.”
“It was interesting, social work isn’t something new to me, but one thing that I did find odd is that every time I have worked with a big name on such projects, the actual concern for the issue is minimal whereas the public impact and portrayal of the act is the primary concern. Kind of like doing the right thing for the wrong reason.”
“Manufacturing machine was a piece from my thesis process work, depicting myself as a usable product for a desired outcome. ’Invisible cities’ was a series of videos, an abstract on self- discovery within the womb.”
“I don’t have any formal work in the field since I graduated like a week ago. So, I don’t think I can answer this question. But from a student’s perspective, I can safely say that Pakistan is a country where talent knows no limit. I just wish there were more platforms and more opportunities for working artists, and the unhealthy competitive environment was fixed, and people became more accepting of all kinds of art.”
“Hopefully done with my masters, working, reading at least one book a week, writing occasionally, working part time at an old people’s home or teaching at an orphanage, taking part in bigger charities than I do now, taking piano or rabab lessons.. and last but not least, married to someone supportive and loving who pushes me to be the best version of myself and helps me achieve more than I can right now.”
“Don’t ever shape yourself into how others would rather have you be. Stay true to what you believe in, even if its you against the world. Failure is your best friend. When you stop being afraid of it, you realize your true potential.”