While most people are brewing coffee or doing battle with morning rush-hour traffic, software developer Chaya Mallavaram is in her home art studio in Shrewsbury. The Bangalore native wakes up at 5 a.m. every morning to paint before heading to her day job at the University of Massachusetts. She turns her abstract, impressionistic acrylic paintings into silk scarves, manufactured in her native India and imprinted with her original designs.
“I’m a software programmer and developer in my day job, but my true passion is art,” Mallavaram says. “I paint for an hour every morning. It takes perseverance, but nothing’s easy.”
She began painting in earnest in 2009 after her mother died from Parkinson’s disease, hoping to sell her work to raise money for charity.
“One day I invited a neighbor to look at my paintings, and he said, ‘I’d wear that!’ ”
Thus the idea for wearable art was born, in the form of silk scarves, suitable for summer or winter.
“I like the idea of silk and art,’’ she says “They go hand in hand. It’s timeless. You keep silk forever, and art is something you keep forever, too.”
Mallavaram’s artwork and use of color are strongly influenced by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, and the colors of India, she says. She mainly focuses on cityscapes and flowers.
“I visited France two years ago, where I visited Monet’s house and garden. When [customers] look at my scarves, they say, ‘Oh God, I see a Monet painting!’ It’s flattering,” she says.
Now she sells her Chartzie Art Scarves at local boutiques like Arlington’s Artbeat, as well as pop-up markets and online at chartzie.com. She asks her Facebook fans to help christen each new scarf design: One is called “Blocks of Bliss,” another “Alive.”
“What’s fun is that people see different things in each design,” she says.
The scarves come in deep oranges, violets, and emeralds, in square or longer, oblong sizes.
“My goal is to make the world a more beautiful place,” she says. “I want people to be noticed and to feel confident.”Kara Baskin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.