With silky, black hair left open to accentuate a smiling face, glasses perched on her nose, 23-year-old Karzin Choden, manager at Bhutan Art Gallery and would-be art curator, is the girl-next-door with the most amiable personality.
Sitting quietly; reading, doing art, listening to music or simply showing around customers and selling artwork at the art gallery located at Le Meridian complex, in the heart of the capital, Karzin is an introvert, who has found purpose and beauty in art.
An Indie artist, Karzin describes herself as a viaduct for viewers to get inside the minds of artists much like the gallery. She says artworks portray the creator’s inquisitiveness.
Apart from her daily responsibilities, she hosts the Bhutan Art Club where artists of different genres including writers, painters, filmmakers, dancers and singers gather to talk on art and other creative themes.
Born into an artistic family, Karzin was considers her mother and maternal aunt an inspiration. She is surrounded by artists – her mother would paint and write, her brothers would draw and dance, and her father would sing and her aunt would craft. “Their drive and the spark they had in their eyes while doing what they loved always made me happy and that’s how my appreciation for the arts began,” she says.
Her eyes were opened to the wonders of the world of creative humans when her college lecturer, Mr. Jason Hopper hired her after graduation on a part-time basis as his research assistant. Coincidentally, he was doing his research on the contemporary and traditional art scene in Bhutan.
Molded with considerable advice from Dr. Jason, Asha Kama (founder of Voluntary Artists Studio of Thimphu, VAST) and Chimi Zangmo (Executive Director of VAST), she was genuinely attracted to the ways, lives and works of the artists, and she wanted to be a productive part of it. “This rare tribe of inspirational people intrigues me to be an art curator.”
Karzin loves hiking in the mountains, taking in the earthly scents and petrichor – the pleasant smell of earth when the first rains fall. “I love talking in metaphors with all the artists who surround me and snuggling up to a beautiful book with my cat.”
Besides her tight schedule, she is a voracious reader and occasionally delves into philosophical and fictional books when she wants to feel inspired or escape the mundane. “Classics are the best.”
Karzin says that VAST Bhutan has revived her faith in humanity. She loses herself in wonder when she is among creative minds. All the secrets of the world seem to be open when they are around. “I wonder how in this materialistic and plastic world, people like them can remain so humble and original,” she says.
She considers herself blessed to be a member of VAST Bhutan as the community of artists encourages individuality and original expression.
Karzin feels that one quality that is required to become an artist is tenacity and the never give up attitude. “As Asha Kama says, a life without commitment is boring.”
Karzin has a love of solitude and independence. She says that to create art, one has to communicate and let people know the thoughts inside which expresses outwardly on canvas, as dance moves, writing or the lyrics you sing. “Even though we are just a speck in this universe, we matter. We make an impact.”
Karzin Choden is a Royal Thimphu College graduate and has plans to pursue further studies on art curating and managing.
Phub Dem from Thimphu