Smile, You’re Alive.

Works by Mansi Patel (’24)


stArt.rv (Reynolda Village)

What does legacy mean to you? I started this body of work by researching the beer my grandfather brewed in Kenya. Scrolling through the Wikipedia page, I became thoroughly disinterested. Tusker beer is a “beer brand owned by East African Breweries”, and “the beer’s slogan ‘Bia yangu, Nchi yangu’ means ‘My beer, My country.’” I was not emotionally attached to the beer’s history but rather to its role in my family’s history. 

“In the Name of” was inspired by this beer and how my family came to be. Tusker beer is woven into the threads of my family because my grandmother willed it, and pieces of hers will be woven into my future family because I will it. Legacy is not about the person who passed but more about what it does for those left behind. It helps them find peace, closure, and new beginnings. What my legacy will be, I will not know, and to be so blunt, I do not care. Whatever it is, I hope that it will bring my loved ones the same peace that the concept of legacy has brought me. 

Through societal and cultural norms, the thought of death often elicits negative emotions aligned with fear. Throughout the creation of this show, I attempted to reframe my mindset on death by using brightly pigmented oil pastels and large scales that force the viewer to be confronted. Although I only painted one portrait of my grandmother, I continued to pay homage to her, as watching her oil paint when I was a child was what inspired me to become an artist in the first place. 

I will never be able to find the words to explain just how much my grandmother meant to me and the rest of my family. She was the strongest person I knew, overcoming insurmountable challenges while remaining extremely humble and big-hearted through it all. Everything I do, I do in her name. I stand on her shoulders like she stood on the rest of ours. My family and I worshiped the ground she walked on, and we miss her every day. She created our family and ensured our closeness. We find her legacy within our bonds, just like she saw in her late husband’s legacy in our successes. I believe she would be proud of us, and she is at peace with my grandfather. I hope she knows that everything I do will be ‘in the name of’ her. 

I present Smile, You’re Alive. A show inspired by family and made for my family. For every work of art in this gallery, I have taken a piece of my family, and in doing so, their legacy continued.

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