Anki Suri: Capturing the Divinity of Everything

As any younger sibling can tell you, it can be difficult to step out from the shadow of your older siblings and find a unique space and identity that is  all your own. For Anki Suri ’25, the youngest of three sisters, finding individuality was both a defining part of her childhood and what led her to uncover her greatest passion: art.

“Growing up, I was always Simran and Kashviya’s little sister. Of course, I loved my sisters and looked up to them more than anyone else, but I also struggled to accept and live up to people’s expectations of being just like them,” remembered Suri. “Creating unique art was my way to come with this. In my daily life, I was always one of three, but in my art, I could be just me.”

Today, much of Suri’s art revolves around vibrant collage work and this medium shines through in every aspect of her being from the patchwork of stories she weaves into conversations to the eclectic fashions she wears on campus. Like a collage, every item of clothing or piece of jewelry that Suri wears is unique and interesting on its own, but when put all together, they create an eye-catching look far more powerful than any one item could ever be. 

One can see this unique style and personal artistry even by looking at just one of Suri’s hands. While her palm is adorned with intricate henna designs, each finger displays a large, gemstone-laden ring while each nail is painted a different color as vibrant as Suri’s own personality. 

Much of Suri’s inspiration for her collage work as well as her personal style derives from her identity. Her art encompasses aspects of her traditional Indian-American upbringing and carries the stories of immigration, spirituality, and love. Growing up, Suri and her sisters struggled to conform to sects of Hinduism they were surrounded by, thus decided to create their own: a philosophy where they found comfort in family stories and connections which they call “Surism.” 

“Surism is derived from our last name, ‘Suri,’ which I think is really fitting because so much of its philosophy is based upon the values and experiences of our family,” explained Suri.

“My grandfather would always repeat the saying, ‘You are you and I am me,’ and that’s really what Surism is all about. It’s about being an individual and following your own unique path, pursuing the pleasures and desires that make you feel like the most divine version of yourself.”

These simple but powerful tenants of Surism are an important source of inspiration in Suri’s collage art.

“I love including imagery of auras in my work because it reminds me of the idea that there is divinity in everything. In my collages, my goal is to make the divine aspect that I know is there visible to all.”

Suri’s artistic process always begins with finding a photograph that is meaningful to her and then using tools such as Photoshop to make its divine nature shine through. By combining unexpected images, colors, patterns and textures, Suri creates eye-catching images that reframe the every day in a unique and memorable way. Just one example of this is a collage tribute that she recently made to her aunt or “bhua.”

“My bhuas are what I would call total fashion killas’,” laughed Suri. “Everything they do has some sort of sparkle to it, and I wanted this to come through in my collage for Pinky Bhua.”

In her bhua’s collage, Suri strayed from her usual gradient style outline and instead used cutout images of sparkling disco balls and intricate rugs in order to express the vibrancy and charisma she felt her bhua deserved. 

“Each of the little details in the collage has a specific meaning and tells a story, and I can pick apart each and every aspect and tell you what they represent. Altogether, I believe they show my bhua’s divine energy and all the excitement, love, passion, and power that exists within her.”

Suri’s journey into collage art began back in high school with her AP Studio Art class when she decided to create a book, “Life Through the Lens,” in which she used a combination of family photographs and photoshop to create a series of collages. As soon as the first collage was complete, Suri fell in love with the medium and began to create more and more works involving her family and the world through her eyes.

“I never really enjoyed doing art in an academic setting with all the technical work, still lifes, and stuff like that. All I have ever wanted to do was play with color and create, and collage art has allowed me to do just that.”

After completing “Life Through the Lens,” Suri continued to create and share her work with the world through her public Instagram @frommymomsipad, named in honor of the first collages that Suri created on her mom’s iPad.

“The name may sound a little funny, but there’s a lot of meaning behind it. If not for my mom’s support, I wouldn’t be here creating today. The name is as much about nostalgia and gratitude as it is about my literal origins creating collages.”

Over the years, Suri’s account has transformed from a digital journal where she could store all her collages to a space where she now finds limitless inspiration and motivation to create new works.

“The account has turned into so much more than just a digital journal or an art portfolio. When I look at it, I feel excited because I can see just how much people appreciate my work. When others express how much they like my art, I recognize that they value the energy I bring forward in my art which is so closely connected to who I am.”

In the last year, Suri began branching out from collages to include her henna on her account as well. 

“I’ve been practicing making designs with henna since about fourth grade, but the henna itself has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.”

Suri holds out a hand and swivels it to show the intricate henna design adorning her palm.

“I like always having henna here on my hand because it serves as a reminder of who I am and the passion behind my work. When I free-hand henna on myself or my friends, I get lost in the process until all I feel is this loving energy motivating me to create and forget all else. It’s freeing.”

In the months to come, Suri has plans to not only continue her collage and henna work, but also to launch Colgate’s first campus fashion magazine which she plans to call “13 Degrees.” 

“There’s a really large population at Colgate that is interested in fashion, culture and art, but there’s really no place for us to express these passions,” explained Suri. “I carry my ancestors’ stories in the way that I dress, the way that I talk, and the way that I create, and I want to create 13 Degrees to be a place where students like myself can showcase these stories.”

As Suri speaks, her passion comes through in the gesturing of her henna-covered hands and the excited jingling of her bracelets.

“13 Degrees is not just a fashion magazine, it’s a culture magazine, and I want it to serve as a reminder to alumni, current students, and future students that their creativity matters, their stories matter, and most of all, THEY matter.”