Kalakari - Who We Are
alakari is a Collective of artists that is built by dreamers who eventually through art, become visionaries. We strive to break through traditional boundaries and defy the limits of our society.
Kalakari, which literally translates to "Artistry" in Sanskrit is a movement that pays homage to the creative roots of South Asia, while constantly transforming and activating fresh and dynamic new forms of art. The two major elements that influence Kalakari are Indian culture and Hip-Hop Culture.
Kalakari clothing was created after founder Nisha Sembi experimented with street art and graphic design for years. As a self-taught Punjabi female graffiti writer from an immigrant family, Nisha was raised by the street culture of the Bay Area. From a young age, she creating her own graffiti mops for tagging and hustling custom sketches on the school bus. Hip-hop became a huge part of her life as she began painting walls with spray paint at the age 16.
From street art, Nisha transitioned into street wear from the growing frustration of a limited selection for women's street apparel.
Kalakari clothing is built from these roots of hip-hop, street art, and resistance. We have come a long way since burning screens in the sun and printing t-shirts in the back yard to an international brand and platform for revoultionary art.
Kalakari Crew is built of artist and activists born and raised in California. We grew up organizing for social justice while spray painting neighborhood walls with messages of resistance. As children of Punjabi immigrants, we were raised in strict households, turning to hip-hop and graffiti as tools of creative freedom and powerful self-expression. From street art, Kalakari transitioned into street wear as a result of the growing frustration with a limited selection for women's street apparel.
Kalakari is about reclaiming our identity in a society that is constantly appropriating culture. We want people to feel empowered by wearing Kalakari gear, knowing that we are in touch with our identity and ancestors, and that we will not be erased. Kalakari is an underground culture that is built from our roots in hip-hop, street art, and resistance. It is a thundering tribute to our motherland and California West Coast lifestyle.
Starting at age 17, Kalakari Founder Nisha K. Sembi armed herself with a spray can and took to the streets to develop her style as a graffiti writer. As her skills evolved, Nisha began to incorporate Indian cultural elements into her work in order to pay homage to her South Asian roots. By combining Indian culture with hip-hop culture, Nisha has channeled a new style called Kalakari (“Artistry”) created through a process of self-reflection and decolonization.