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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Local artist displays artwork showcasing techniques she learned in India

Jun 02, 2023 09:12AM ● By Jolene Croasmun

Cottonwood Heights’ April artist of the month, Durga Ekambaram, with her artwork which was on display at city hall. (Jolene Croasmun/City Journals)

Local artist Durga Ekambaram creates stunning images on canvas and teaches art classes in the Salt Lake Valley with mediums that she learned from her mother back in India.

“My mother is an artist in India and she taught in colleges and schools. I learned a lot from her, I worked with coffee grinds, eggshells, clay, and I started at 5 or 6 years of age,” Ekambaram said.

“People who teach art to kids in India use coffee as a medium; it works like watercolors and it is common there to use coffee grinds to create art,” she said. Ekambaram taught a coffee class in Millcreek at the end of April. She said the coffee classes smell amazing.

Some of her coffee paintings are of temples inspired from her childhood. 

Besides coffee grinds, some other mediums that Ekambaram uses is clay, mirrors and eggshells to create unique art pieces.

“I work with a lot of mediums to get more challenged and inspired and it keeps me motivated. I like anything with clay and mixed mediums.” 

“Quilling is something I learned from my mother, and I use it as a piece of art to keep myself more engaged and focused,” she said. Quilling involves using strips of paper that are rolled, twisted, curled and then glued together to create a shape. Quilling is not a traditional Indian art form but Ekambaram learned it as a child and really enjoys it. 

Ekambaram’s work has been displayed around the valley and last April she was the featured artist of the month in Cottonwood Heights.

Ekambaram’s eggshell painting of a snake was one of her pieces on display at Cottonwood Heights City Hall. She used eggshells to create the image. “The eggshells are placed on the canvas, and then I use acrylics on it,” she said.  

In the past Ekambaram has also taught a lippan art class at a children’s museum and is teaching one in May at the Taylorsville Library. Lippan art uses clay and mirrors. “Lippan art was done in rural areas of India. People in India use it on doors and this is very popular,” Ekambaram said. 

“I moved to the U.S. with my husband and we lived in the United States for 12 years after we got married. We lived in Nebraska, Atlanta and now we have been in Utah for 6 years.” In India, Ekambaram designed apps as a content creator for schools and she was a software engineer. 

Ekambaram does not have a work visa in the United States at this time and donates all proceeds to charities when she sells her art. She started to create art after her second child was born due to needing a creative outlet. She hopes to get a work permit in the next few months and, in the meantime, she continues to create interesting and beautiful artwork, write literature and poetry and take care of her two children.

“I painted a mural in South Jordan and at the end of the year I have an art show coming up in December at the South Jordan City Hall,” Ekambaram said. λ