Gopalakrishnan's lecture title really caught my attention, reading, "Hustlin' (Meaningfully). I wondered why she used such a title and how she related to such a verb. Thankfully, she explains the meaning throughout her definition. She starts with a brief overview of pieces she completed while she went to school in Paris and New Delhi. Gopalakrishnan is largely influenced by her social and cultural background which is reflected in her work. In an early graphic design project, she explains how she would journey around her neighborhood collecting various words from magazines, newspapers, posters, etc. These words represent the area and promotes a deeper message. Other than word art, she loves to draw about social and cultural issues. Later in New Delhi, she worked with various types of clients on website designs. Here, she learned to work with different mediums and cope with time constraints.
In Cranbrook, Michigan, Gopalakrishnan moves on to working with installations. In her pieces, she played with different feelings that balanced two extremes. Some examples of this are Panic vs. Calm and Belonging vs. Breaking Out. After working with installations, Gopalakrishnan takes these concepts and works with another medium, animation. The project she showed represented disorder. Here, she experimented with the feeling of a familiar becoming unfamiliar, a friend becoming an enemy. I find the concepts she chose to be very interesting and I admire how she can thrive on such a perplexing concept. Gopalakrishnan wishes for her projects to be seen in various degrees and to give a certain emotion depending on what is viewed. Therefore there are different dimensions in her paintings and designs. Up close, the piece looks as if it is made up of rigid vectors. However, it looks completely different from far away, appearing free and airy. There is a common concept emphasized in each of Gopalakrishnan's projects. That is to look closer in order to find a deeper meaning, but not forgetting to step back to see the bigger picture.
Lastly, Gopalakrishnan gives a deep run down on her proudest achievement thus far, Kara Weaves. (Kara literally means "border". Eg. "Border of Fabric") This company is based in Kerala, India which specializes in fabric weaving. When she found it, fabric weaving was a dying art form. In order to save this industry, she combined her talent of branding and passion for her community. With the help of her mother, a view other family members and the blog, "Design Sponge", the company was up and running. To Gopalakrishnan's surprise, many people were interested in their project and were sold out in just ten days! In order to show gratitude for the support, she made hand-drawn thank you cards. Gopalakrishnan's main goal with the industry is to revive fabric weaving as a sustainable job. Therefore she wished to teach others the art form and how it needs to be respected. Her ideals are reflected in a quote by Bonnie Tsang, "Your passion may not be your talent, but you can combine the two and do great things."
Her lecture reminds us of what is really important in life and career. It is not about what you do but why you do it and how it can impact a community. We as architects design not only because it is our passion, but to leave a lasting positive influence on society. Just as Tom Smith has mentioned before, our goal is to take our passion and talent, and turn it into a legacy.
(Author: Cynthia Miao)
Guest speakers visiting from different places coming together and lecturing about their projects, groups, and firms at the University of Hawaii Manoa: School of Architecture.