Meet the Artist - Shikha Malaviya

Carrying on in the theme of introductions, today we invite you to learn all about Shikha Malaviya- poet, writer, publisher, mentor of young aspiring authors, and Beautiful Dark’s artistic voice. Shikha graces the production of Beautiful Dark with her poetic mindset and brings to word the story, struggle and artistic healing that Beautiful Dark has to offer.

As a poet, writer and publisher born in the United Kingdom who grew up in the United States and India, Shika’s familial origins lay in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand, India. Shikha is a unique writer as demonstrated in her book of historical persona poetry, Anandibai Joshee: A Life in Poems (HarperCollins India, 2023) where she chronicles the life of India’s first female medical doctor and first Indian woman to study medicine in the United States. Shikha’s previous book Geography of Tongues-a collection of poems that morphs between continents and cultures-was published to acclaim in 2014. Her poetry has been nominated for many noteworthy prizes and awards and she was deemed Poet Laureate in 2016. Shikha co-founded the Great Indian Poetry Collective, a mentorship model literary press to honor Indian poets and young authors. Along with working as a poetry mentor, Shikha is also a workshop facilitator and curator.

Shikha Malaviya

When it comes to her personal experiences with colorism, Shikha says she “has been on both sides of the spectrum. “In India, I’m considered a fairer person, so I didn’t get discrimination there. I saw other people in my family, who are darker than me, being discriminated against for their color. That they don’t take care of themselves, that they sit out in the sun too much, they were advised to make a turmeric paste to put on their face to lighten their skin, which is very popular in India. In fact, I remember this incident when I used to swim. This was when I was visiting India in the summer. It was an outdoor pool and I became so dark, and then I had relatives say to me, why are you so dark? What have you done?” (S. Malaviya, personal communication, April 4th 2024).

For Shikha, her one biggest highlight working on Beautiful Dark also illuminates what Mosaic America as an organization stands for. “What Mosaic represents, in terms of having different cultures and different mediums, combine together to create such a powerful message-the fact that we have two dancers, a musician and a poet, to me that is the highlight. The fact that we are all women from different cultures but there is something that binds us. Our creative art binds us, but also the fact that we all want to do something meaningful with our art.” (S. Malaviya, personal communication, April 4th 2024).

“And that it’s not just about us. It’s about making the personal universal.” (S. Malaviya, personal communication, April 4th 2024).

As the voice of Beautiful Dark, Shikha outlines the progress of the performance by offering a captivating commentary to complement the dance and music. Shikha illuminates what is intrinsically embedded in the dance and song while bringing attention to the deeper thematic messages at play. Shikha will encourage us to self reflect on our own experiences with colorism, as well as implore us to make bigger universal connections to the human struggle as a whole.