Things We Love: Picks from Hemalatha Venkataraman

Hemalatha Venkataraman
Photo by Ram Keshav

Hemalatha Venkataraman is a visual artist, poet and writer hailing from Madras, India. An architect who also holds an MFA in Design Research and Development from Ohio State University, she has been featured in numerous events and public art projects. Her most recent solo exhibit was 2017's “Brewing Home.” Her work explores the intersection of art, urban design, social innovation and story-telling. She has an upcoming show at S.Dot Gallery in January and will also be one of the many femme artists at the Columbus Museum of Art's Think Like an Artist event, “Pandora's Boxes,” hosted by Streetlight Guild, on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m.

Here are some of her favorite things.


I take my chai very, very seriously. It's what keeps my art, research papers, work, poetry and reading all going. Tea with people I love is my most personal and important time. So, yeah, I most likely like you if I've offered you some of my excellent elixir.

While we're here, it's NOT called Chai-tea (the redundancy and cultural appropriation serves a deadly combination), it's not a flavor, you don't add ‘latte' to it, and you sure as hell don't add pumpkin spice to it. Just, please don't.

How cities work — their stories and mental maps

I love figuring out how every city I go to works, through live-sketching and art, discovering routes, hidden treasures, researching its history and listening to the many narratives of how different people see the same city. This helps me form a layered mental map of the city: social, economic, cultural, artistic, physical and all.

The local Columbus arts and poetry scene

I've been a part of this space for the past two and a half years now, and I love the tight-knit, loving art and poetry community that Columbus offers. People have been nothing short of absolutely wonderful to me, and I enjoy being challenged to grow as an artist and human being by the community. I love how I bump into people I know on the streets these days — it means Columbus is home.

Chopin and M.S. Subbulakshmi

I wouldn't do half the things I do without music, and in the midst of it all, there are two artists who are my musical antidotes: Frédéric Chopin for melancholy (listen to “Nocturne C sharp-minor Op. posth”), and M.S. Amma, the beautiful South Indian Carnatic vocalist, for her salve and healing (listen to “Mere tho Giridhar”).

CAPA theaters

I had this pretty neat opportunity last year to sketch all four of the historic CAPA theaters in their architectural splendor, history and timelessness. To be the only person in the theaters, or the only audience to the organists' rehearsal before an opening night, being able to explore these theaters' nooks and crannies (including those stunning little projector rooms, learning how the reels and their machines worked, how they were cleaned and all) is something I'll hold onto forever.