Over the past few months, more and more students around campus have been wearing the art of Sidhika Tripathee ’22 — on their ears and even on their bodies. Sidhika has recently started her own business, selling handmade crochet earrings and tattooing stick-and-pokes. But her artistic talent goes far beyond these two skills to include all manner of crafts.
If you’ve seen Sidhika around campus, you may have noticed her keen fashion sense: earth-toned midi skirts and rich floral patterns. Many of these clothes Sidhika has sewn herself. In fact, it’s been years since she’s bought clothing firsthand, choosing instead to thrift, sew, or crochet, a choice made both to save money and to encourage sustainability.
“A lot of the crafts I started picking up because I didn’t want to buy things,” Sidhika told me in our interview, as she sat cross-legged on my bed. “I felt like I could do things cheaper if I made them myself. Yeah, I think a lot of it was the price. I got into tattooing because I don’t want to pay for an actual tattoo. I grew up low income — money has had a big impact on my life. But I learned to like the crafts a lot and I appreciate them.”
As Sidhika spoke with me, she gesticulated with arms curated by a collection of tattoos inked by both professionals and her own hands. Several of these beautiful pieces have references to the earth: a butterfly, a globe, various flora and fauna. In her very presence, Sidhika is clearly a woman grounded in the natural world, and it probably comes as no surprise that she is an environmental studies major.
“A lot of colors I choose when I’m painting are very natural. It’s a certain palette,” she told me, going on to describe her interest in using natural materials through embroidery and woodworking.
However, she is also a computer science major, and her technical skills come in handy in her work as well.
“CS is very analytical. It’s a logical way of thinking. When I’m crocheting, for example, and trying to create a pattern to create something new, it’s very logical and very number-based,” Sidhika explained, demonstrating, “This is how many stitches I need to do to get to this point and how would I scale that up?”
Unfortunately, Sidhika has had to reduce her academic load this year, since she has been diagnosed with long COVID.
“One of the symptoms is that I have chronic fatigue,” she confided in me. “I just can’t do a lot of things. I get tired really easily, and I only have so much energy to do things in a day. Last semester when things were really hard, I could barely find anything that would restore energy in myself, which wasn’t just lying in bed all day. This semester I realized that crafting is one of those things that can restore energy. That’s been an amazing outlet for me to not feel crazy and not feel so incapable of doing things that I could do before.”
This experience has greatly impacted Sidhika’s life.
“I think one good thing about long COVID has been that I can’t work full time after college at a tech company, and so I’m going to work part-time. I know I will have to use art as a way of making money because I have to work part-time. So it’s a little complicated. I’m kind of nervous that I’m going to lose the sense of feeling calm by doing art because there’s a pressure of making money from it.”
Despite her clear ability, Sidhika has struggled with her identity as a craftsperson.
“Previously it used to be like, I’m not an artist, period. Now I feel less of that. And I think part of it is because I’ve seen Jacob, for example, who is an artist and is proud to be one and claims to be one,” she said, referring to a previous artist of the week Jacob Weitzner ’22. “I think his security in that title makes it easier for me to kind of challenge my perceptions of what an artist is. It’s always hard because I’m always harder on myself than anyone else.”
Her last statement rings true, particularly since Jacob himself had discussed with me in our interview some of these very same conflicts between craft and art within his own identity as a potter.
“I think that we all have these perceptions of ourselves,” Sidhika went on. “I have this core feeling of who I am and I think it’s not always positive. When doing art, I think I can see myself in another way. In my daily life I think so much about what other people think of me. And I think that plays in a lot of my interactions or my behaviors, my actions, what I think about myself. All of that goes away when you’re doing art. It feels like I can be myself without any influence, in a positive way. It feels really meditative and true to myself.”
You can contact Sidhika or purchase her art through her Instagram page @handmade_by_sidhika.