Between Two Worlds: The Art & Life of Amrita Sher-Gil by Meera Sriram and Ruchi Bakshi Sharma

Hello, Meera Sriram! Hello, Ruchi Bakshi Sharma! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! Thank you for stopping by to discuss Between Two Worlds: The Art & Life of Amrita Sher-Gil.

Meera, when did you (your heart) know you needed to write a picture book about Amrita Sher-Gil?

Meera Sriram: Thank you, John, for having us. Ruchi and I are thrilled to share more about Amrita and our book!

I knew I wanted to write about Amrita on my first day of research. I’d known about Amrita and admired her work. However, the deeper I read, the more I started to connect with her character traits as well as her joys and struggles living across continents. When I realized that many of her life experiences would resonate with bicultural and mixed-race families, I knew in my heart that children needed to hear her story.

Ruchi, please take us on a tour of the gorgeous cover. Maybe start with the ship Amrita Sher-Gil is holding.

Ruchi Bakshi Sharma: Amrita to me was like a great mountain burning with fire.

The ship in her hands represents her vibrant journey through life, the veils of memories and waves of experiences she coursed through… the turbulent winds and storms she rode out on.

Meera, please share 3 of your favorite facts about Amrita Sher-Gil.

Meera Sriram: Amrita was a free spirit, unapologetic about her choices, be it in art or religion or sexuality.

She wrote long letters regularly to stay in touch with people.

Very often, she turned to friends and family, and house helps in her own home, to model for her to paint.

Ruchi, please finish the following sentence starters:

Amrita Sher-Gil was a fiery and gifted shooting star.

Picture books are like a burst of wonderfulness which can encourage in children a certain quality of looking that ignites an inextinguishable desire to reflect and learn.

They allow a tactile space and time so needed in today's 8 sec attention span world.

Meera, please finish the following sentence starters:

Ruchi Bakshi Sharma’s illustrations do absolute justice to a picture book on an artist! At the core of Sher-Gil’s journey is a complex exploration of her art and identity and I think Ruchi’s images capture that profoundness. I also love the earthy tones and vintage-y textures and patterns throughout that are as intriguing and striking as Amrita herself. Needless to say, the overall art is stunning!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me why write about Amrita Sher-Gil for kids? Because children of color and mixed-parentage don’t see many role models in books. Women personalities from the East, and particularly in the field of art, are also hugely underrepresented in children’s books in the West, and I hope this book helps to fill that space.

Again, thank you John. We’re honored to have the cover of BETWEEN TWO WORLDS revealed here and very excited for everyone to read Sher-Gil’s story!

Thank you, Meera and Ruchi! 

Meera Sriram grew up in India and moved to the U.S in 1999. An engineer in the past, she now enjoys writing, leading early literacy initiatives, and advocating for diverse bookshelves. Meera is the author of the picture books The Yellow Suitcase and A Gift For Amma, and has also co-authored several books in India. Meera believes in the transformative power of stories and likes to write about people, places, and experiences less visible in children's literature.

Ruchi Bakshi Sharma has studied communication design at the National Institute of Design and has directed several award-winning live-action and stop-motion shorts. She works with multiple mediums and materials. Play and motion are dominant elements in her work, and the picaresque characters in her drawings are often based on outlandish folklore.

Amrita Sher-Gil was always making art—as a little girl in Budapest, as a young woman in Northern India, as an art student in Paris, she filled up notebooks with sketches and drawings—but what kind of artist would she grow up to be? Between Two Worlds: The Art and Life of Amrita Sher-Gil follows Amrita, the daughter of a Hungarian opera singer and an Indian scholar, on her travels from Hungary to India to France and back to India as she discovered her own artistic vision: one that embraced European and Indian culture. Amrita was rebellious, brave, curious, and bold in her short life and in her paintings, and she became an important figure in the 20th century modern art movement.


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