Her ancestors migrated to East Africa in the 1900s from Porbandar, Gujarat, India. She was born in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and brought up in Jinja, Uganda (the source of River Nile). Later she moved to the United Kingdom to pursue her master’s degree in Textile and Knitwear Design and Technology. In 1977, Asha-Aditi joined her husband, a practicing dentist, in Winnipeg. Having an affinity to belong to a larger South Asian community, and to seek better professional opportunities, they decided to reside in Toronto. Asha-Aditi’s two children are qualified professionals, both born and raised in Toronto.
When Asha-Aditi first arrived to Canada, her credentials were not respected; moreover, she was forced take on a low-paying manufacturing job, despite possessing a master’s degree. Nevertheless, within a short time, she was promoted to the position of designer and later, in 1989, progressed to be the director of product design and development for private brand apparel and knitwear products with the Hudson’s Bay Company. This role involved counselling over 45 Bay and Zellers buyers; establishing standards; procedures, identifying trends in fashion and colour; ans providing design and technical support to global suppliers expanding their manufacturing facilities.
In 1998, Asha-Aditi’s 30 years of experience as textile technologist and design specialism began to be recognized and sought out by university faculties focused in this area of study. Memorial University in Newfoundland hired her as a consultant/advisor in Small Business curriculum development, whilst Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University) hired Asha-Aditi as a trainer and consultant to teach in the Faculty of Fashion design, which she continues to do at present.
Explorations with Art
With the textile industry diminishing, Asha-Aditi decided to take her artistic spirit and experience into a new genre of art-making. Inspired by her journey of life, culture, traditions and heritage, Asha-Aditi pushes boundaries between tradition and innovation with her mix-media pieces of art, and creates her own unique artistic techniques to not only to explore new ways to formulate design, colour, structure and texture, but to also to express story and poetry through her expressions of art. She expresses in her work her deep rooted spirituality; the ultimate mystery and beauty of life as well as explores persistence of things in the world, such as water, sky, earth and people, to all become symbols of endurance and timeless journey. Hence Asha-Aditi’s maxim—Timeless Art & Design.
Asha-Aditi’s volunteer work has made immeasurable contributions to various multicultural communities, organizations, hospitals, schools and individuals within the Greater Toronto Area. She has served on the Ontario Crafts Council and York Region Arts Council. She sits on the steering committee of Municipal Cultural Planning and on the York Region Inclusivity Action Plan and Social Service Network. Asha-Aditi is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award for 15 years of volunteer service from the Minister of Citizenship. She teaches Art in the Ward at the Stouffville Hospital, Markham, Ontario.
Her works and exhibits include:
Theme Art: Paintings
As a member of the Association of African Canadian Artists, Asha-Aditi presented her paintings collection in COLOURblind International, affiliated with Caribana Festival; the theme art exhibition, Roots to Rhythm, installed at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in July–August 2008; and she has been selected to exhibit in the Beyond Rhythm theme exhibition at the ROM in July 2009.
Asha-Aditi’s Roots to Rhythm collection aesthetically linked her African history by striving to document and educate the audience about the rich culture and heritage. By bringing to canvas the differences, histories, traditions and struggles, she demonstrated her unique artistic ability.
Asha-Aditi’s other theme collections have been presented in COLOURblind International, the annual theme art traveling exhibition installed at several art galleries in Toronto, such as Breaking Down the Barriers of Discrimination at the Spin Gallery, Toronto, 2006; and Mask collection at The Blue Dot Gallery in the Distillery District of Toronto, 2007.
Rangoli—Indian Folk Floor Art
Rangoli is a traditional Indian folk floor-art typically installed at the entrances of Hindu temples and homes during times of celebration and religious festivals in South Asia and now in Canada.
Asha-Aditi’s oversized outdoor rangolis have been displayed at the Luminato Festival Toronto (2008); at the Sharing our Traditions festival at the Spadina Museum, Toronto (2008); and at the Winterlicious Festival at the Spice Route Restaurant (2009).
At the Luminato Festival, Asha-Aditi exhibited an oversized (10 x 10 foot) outdoor rangoli, using predominately reused and recycled materials. This eco-cultural piece of art was crafted using a combination of used cardboard, wrapping/tissue paper, beer bottle caps, cardboard cylinders from the inside of empty toilet rolls and kitchen napkin rolls, inside of photographic film roll winder, kitchen aluminum foil, stones and pebbles, compact discs, marbles, beads from old jewelry, artificial flowers, yarn etc.
Asha-Aditi’s design for this rangoli piece was inspired by one of her paintings, title Unity is Divinity. This rangoli is made up of several lotus petals, within which various religious faiths symbols are embedded. The artistic floral display of the world’s major religious symbols results in a profound interaction between the viewer and the art, in a way that stimulates an inner experience of deep compassion, joy and acceptance. Moreover, it is meant to encourage Canadian multicultural citizens to keep open pathways for mutual understanding and acceptance between people of different faiths.
With positive responses towards her Unity is Divinity rangoli design, Panorama India invited Asha-Aditi to install this particular rangoli at the Sharing Our Traditions exhibit at Toronto’s Spadina Museum, using a different set of artistic materials such as puffed rice, lentils, flowers, paint and candles.
The buzz behind Asha-Aditi’s rangoli artwork has been spreading, not only amongst Toronto’s art community, but also among the larger community, including business owners. Liberty Entertainment Group and the Spice Route Restaurant have employed her to showcase her rangoli in the foyer of the restaurant during the Winterlicious Festival, using an array of Indian spices as her materials.