For Anika Ame, making art is an act of radical self-love, a powerful vehicle for creating community wherever she goes and a metaphor for finding beauty “in the midst of ugliness.”
Her artwork, currently featured at Mustard Seed Market & Café in Highland Square, expresses the resilience of women and Anika’s love of nature.
Her obsessions with the color gold and the lotus flower are especially evident in her piece “Catalyst.”
Anika says her adoration for lotus flowers stems from their resilient nature and ability to grow through “thick, not-so-beautiful mud” and come out flawless.
“I’m really inspired by nature,” she says. “I’m chasing the sun because my creativity is stifled in the winter when it’s cold and I can’t have access to nature all the time. I need to be around trees and water and flowers.”
Anika says she’s “all about things that grow,” and her pieces are a celebration of strength. The women she creates in her artwork wear crystal hair, representing “points of power.” This is in tension with the chains over their mouths, creating a metaphor for courage despite being “silenced.”
“You can be weak and feel powerful at the same time,” Anika says. “You can feel like you’re being silenced or feel like you’re not getting the rights you deserve, but you can still have some power. So how can you tap into that power?”
Anika accesses power by seeking out what she calls “peaceful triggers.” Peaceful triggers are anything that helps her feed off the creating energy around her. It can be attending a yoga class, saying verbal affirmations or going on a hike.
Anika’s self-care practices are intrinsic to her life as an artist. Her podcast, Lotus Room, helps listeners incorporate self-care practices throughout their day-to-day schedules, rather than waiting for the weekend. She started the podcast in 2018 and is now on its second season.
“We have to be working on our mental wellness all the time,” Anika says. “We have to be working on our physical wellness all the time. So how do we do that without thinking we have to set this big, huge slot of time for it? You can wake up and do things. You can do things before you go to bed. It could be just a couple minutes, but the important thing is always paying attention to yourself.”
Anika is currently working on two projects, both collaborations between the visual arts and poetry. The first is a painting that features a line from one of her poems, which reads, “Moments of sadness and pain move through my body like a wave. What else can I do but plan for better days.” The other is an illustrative project where Anika is creating artwork to accompany a collection of poems she wrote last year.
Aside from this, Anika is planning a Men of Color show at Mustard Seed Market & Café in Highland Square. The show will feature artwork by men of color. Submissions for the exhibit open up in February.
Check out Anika’s artwork at Mustard Seed through Feb. 16. Keep up with Anika on Facebook at Facebook.com/AnikaAmeLive.
Noor Hindi is The Devil Strip’s senior reporter. Email her at email@example.com.