How Amonwan Dolly Mirpuri Is Using Her Art to Overcome Her Past
Dolly Mirpuri navigates her native Bangkok in various social circles and artistic disciplines. A stylist and artist she’s equally comfortable at a high fashion event or at an underground concert. However while she seems like a carefree social butterfly, underneath the surface is a woman who’s faced many challenges and had an upbringing that wasn’t always rosy. As she grows as an artist she’s working through her childhood traumas one piece at a time and invites us into her mindset while creating. We spoke to her about how her art is giving her a sense of purpose, and how she wants to help others with her exhibitions.
How long have you been doing art professionally?
Dolly Mirpuri: I started creating art professionally three years ago. I participated in a group art show where the proceeds from the sold pieces went to Vietnam which had recently been flooded. Prior to the show, I had minimal knowledge or awareness that I had the ability to create art. Struggling with self-judgment and fear of criticism, I was impeding myself from moving forward with my vision and truth. Running out of time to complete art pieces for the exhibition forced me to put my fears of judgment aside. Ironically the fear of failing propelled me to create from a place of determination, and that is how I started this journey. I was surprised to receive really positive feedback regarding my work at the exhibition, and got a chance to showcase my first solo show two months later.
The two months of preparation for my first solo show awakened a higher purpose in me. With extensive self-interrogation, reflection, research and traveling inwards I had self-discoveries and epiphanies that accompanied a shift in my consciousness with the progression of my art. It was all about trusting the journey, failing, getting back up and trusting again.
Did art help you get out of the negative zone in your life?
Creating art solidified my growth — process, pains, struggles, and triumphs — into something tangible which helped me cope with what I experienced at different points in my life. It helped me turn my fears and experiences into a more concrete concept with an awareness that this was a byproduct of my past traumas.
Feeling out of place is an overarching theme in your work, can you tell me more about that?
The last exhibition I held revolved around the concept of unconformity. The concept shows how easy it is to be rejected and dismissed in society because you believe in a truth that is different to the mass. I never felt accepted or good enough the way I was because I grew up in a household of unusual circumstances. Because of the unconscious pain my parents and other family members were going through, they could not show me their ability to love since they were acting from a place of hurt. A big chunk of my life was lived within the realms of violence, aggression, sexual harassment, physical abuse, and psychological mistreatment. This caused issues of neglect, abandonment, unworthiness, substance abuse, just because the people whom I grew up with did not know how to love properly. Even though that was the best they could do at the time.
Were you able to go get closer to your own truth through art?
My art is my truth. It’s the truth that I have lived. The truth that I live and the truth that I live for.
Showing your art is also a vulnerable act, how did you approach that?
I struggled with the fear of judgment for a very long time and I still do, but what is different now is that I’m consciously working towards releasing that pain within me. There is a collective fear of being vulnerable because it’s believed to be a sign of weakness. But what’s ironic is that it takes courage to be vulnerable. It takes strength to wear your wounds, your hidden truths on your face for the world to see. To be transparent and to own up to your vulnerability. And once you are able to own your vulnerability out in the open with trust in yourself, no one will be able use it against you. You cannot dismantle authenticity because that is truth.
In your life you moved through various social circles. What role did subcultures play in your life?
The subcultures I was exposed to taught me to accept and appreciate the differences between the circles and the individuals I had a chance of meeting. Growing up being immersed in a culturally diverse scene, I had the opportunity to experience a variety of social circles and subcultures and my experiences molded and opened up numerous artistic channels which gave me the elasticity to work in a wide range of design and art directives. It offered me multiple perspectives.
How did you get into fashion styling?
The contrast between the subcultures helped me see “beauty” in different ways. I found charm in the unconventional and sophisticated, the two being different appealed to me. As an artist, you have the creative capability to translate something that might seem mediocre into something monumental and transcendental based on your perception and understanding of things.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on my next exhibition which is yet to be revealed but the concept will work in support of women. I always strive to have purpose in my work. The goal of creating is to raise consciousness through creative energy and expression of truth. Through that I carry out purpose and create a ripple effect of change.
How does Bangkok inspire you?
Bangkok mostly inspired by my internal journey and societal trauma, which has mostly occurred here. It has formed my identity and I’ve developed awareness in different ways including meeting unique individuals and immersing myself in subcultures.
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