Residency and program generously supported by:
Veshalini Naidu is an illustrator, spoken word poet and theatremaker.
In her ongoing watercolor series, Skin & Flowers Veshalini investigates gender, sexuality and toxic masculinity in Malaysia. The visual imagery of the work was inspired by a line from Nayyirah Waheed’s poem, “less”:
i want more ‘men’
with flowers falling from their skin.
For Veshalini, the LGBTQ experience, more often than not, is one of pain, especially in Malaysia. Remaining soft in spite of it is an even greater feat. Skin & Flowers developed from a hunger or imagery that could show an alternative such a reality, to love, to be loved, to belong, to live and not just survive, and have your softness pour out of your skin felt vital.
Exploring this series in Chicago, she wishes to challenge language surrounding and within LGBTQ+ narratives. In a time when tensions are high & safe spaces are slowly becoming endangered, are there ways we can conserve our joy in ourselves before we give in to the ugly parts of our story? Can the language of “Skin & Flowers” that was shaped in Malaysia find bridges in the language of Chicago communities and gain greater resilience and new perspectives to bring home? With this, she hopes to use this new language to project hopeful futures for her communities.