Festivals and Folklore of Trinidad, West Indies

The Art of Indra Persad Milowe

September 1st – September 30th 

Artist Statement:

I am Indra Persad Milowe, a Trinidad born Visual Artist living and working in Salem, MA. My works bring to life many of my childhood memories of growing up in Trinidad, West Indies in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

My interest is in nature, still life and design. I adored my St. Augustine Girls High School Art Teacher, Mrs. Helga Mohammed from Madrid, Spain, she was married to a Trinidadian. On my first day in her class at age 12, written on her blackboard were: “Art is not only a painting hanging up on a wall, Art is in every aspect of your daily life.” These words have been stuck in my head since. My paintings were chosen for the high school’s yearbook for two consecutive years. At age 15, I painted from nature – orchids on a branch. At age 16, I did a still life – a display of an apple, pear, and a bunch of grapes. Those two paintings and all the incredible reviews that came with them lifted my confidence in my artwork.

This Real Simple magazine article made me think about all the kitchens that I had cooked in, my favorite was my grandmother’s kitchen. She cooked with 3 Chulhas, they required a lot of skill to manipulate the pieces of wood, to keep the flame burning correctly. To become an “eligible bride”, one of the requirements was to be able to puff a paratha, with the right texture and consistency. After mastering that skill, you are allowed to place “your handprint” on her kitchen wall, it was like a Graduation. That kitchen brought up a lot of memories of different foods that were cooked for different Festivals. Hence my 1st painting was my grandmother’s kitchen.

As I began to plan out this painting, I remembered the smell of freshly made laddoos, which was a favorite dessert of ours and of Lord Ganesh. Lord Ganesh is the Remover of all Obstacles and the first Hindu deity to be worshiped in all Festivals and Ceremonies, therefore my 2nd painting was Ganesh Chaturthi.

There is a personal story behind every one of my paintings. I painted every single Festival celebrated in Trinidad, West Indies, also all the Folklore stories that I heard while growing up. This is the reason for the title: “Festivals and Folklore of Trinidad, West Indies”.

About the Artist:

Indra has worked in England, Malta, Trinidad and the United States and retired from General, Ophthalmic and Psychiatric Nursing in 2019. Through British Nurses Overseas, she was able to work in different countries around the world. Ultimately, she decided to go back to art during her retirement. She prefers working on canvas with multi-coloured and gold acrylic paints.

Click here to view her website, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with her art!

Draupati being disrobed

Hanuman delivers Ram’s ring to Sita

Observing Ramadan during Covid 19

Dancing the Cocoa Beans

Every full moon the deceased owner Lopinot comes to look over his property on a white horse – a well known Apparition

Cricket is the most popular sport in Trinidad and Tobago

Yard Sweepers on Carnival morning trying to make money all dressed up

Doubles vendor is the most popular snack in Trinidad and Tobago

 An old water wheel in Tobago is now the backdrop for a popular restaurant and bar

Spiritual Baptist Day is a public holiday

Yamas and Niyamas

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras lists five yamas, or moral restraints, which apply specifically to how you behave outwardly toward other beings. From left to right, the paintings in the first row are: 1) Ahimsa – Non-violence in thought, word and deed, 2) Satya – Truthfulness, 3) Asteya – Non-Stealing, 4) Brahmacharya – putting the “path to the Divine” first and foremost in life, and 5) Aparigraha – Non-hoarding, freedom from grasping.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra lists five niyamas, or observances, which apply specifically to how you conduct yourself on a more personal level. From left to right, the paintings in the second row are: 1) Saucha – Cleanliness, 2) Santosha – Contentment, 3) Tapas – Self Discipline, 4) Svadhyaya – Self Study, 5) Isvara-pranidhana – Surrender: offering yourself completely as a vehicle of the Divine will.

This ten-piece painting collection captures religious and cultural life in so many patterns and colors, just like our world is full of varieties of patterns and colors.

They reflect many disciplines and ideals of life: faith, fortitude, sacrifice, respect, and love.

Love and respect for all patterns (ways of life) and colors (global cultures) are a very important Hindu worldview – “VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM” (the world is a family).

“The world is a family” —Maha Upanishad 6.71–75

“One is a relative, the other stranger, say the small minded.
The entire world is a family, living magnanimously.
Be detached, be magnanimous, lift up your mind, enjoy the fruit of Brahmanic freedom.”

The Flint Public Library is always looking for artists who are interested in sharing their work with the community. To inquire about having your artwork featured in our Online Art Exhibition, please email Charlie at cpope@flintpublib.org!