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South Jordan Journal

Local artists on display at South Jordan City Hall

Nov 24, 2020 03:31PM ● By Mariden Williams

Durga Ekambaram stands with her portrait of Tamil poet Bharathiyar. “Let all dreams come true / and quickly too / Let there be happiness and fame in this world.” –From “Manadhil Urudhi Vendum” by Bharathiyar. (Photo courtesy Laura Williams)

By Mariden Williams | [email protected]

Every month, the South Jordan Arts Council displays the work of two local artists at the South Jordan City Hall. November's featured artists are painter Durga Ekambaram and military graphic designer David Lankford. 

Ekambaram's paintings are vibrant and colorful, and she utilizes a variety of different techniques, including pointillism and reverse glass painting. She's particularly fond of intricate swirling patterns and wavy mandalas, which feature prominently in many of her works. 

"The patterns are called zentangles,” Ekambaram said. “I really like working on them, because it kind of, you know, sharpens your skill, and it takes a lot of concentration. You can see it in almost all of my works. Anywhere I can incorporate zentangles, I do." 

Her three favorite pieces in this exhibition are "Lyme Park," "Mysore Palace" and "Bharathiyar."

"Lyme Park" depicts the English estate for which it is named: a large stone manor house reflecting into a serene man-made lake, surrounded by well-manicured green gardens. The estate was featured in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice," in which it was called Pemberley. 

"I'm a very, very ardent Jane Austen fan," said Ekambaram. "I'm actually writing a fanfiction of ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ It's a work in progress; I'm hoping one day I could publish it on Amazon. So it's keeping me busy, but it will be fun."

"Mysore Palace" depicts an Indian palace of the same name, with high domed ceilings filled with the swirling patterns Ekambaram most likes to paint, swirling with bright blue and gold. "Bharathiyar" is a portrait of one of her favorite poets, composed entirely out of tiny dots of color. 

"There are no brushstrokes involved in this painting; it's just varied sizes of dots,” Ekambaram said. “It's called pointillism. Bharathiyar is actually a poet from India. So he's actually supposed to know, like, 16 languages, and he is really famous in India. His verses were a part of our schooling. He's written a lot about feminism and independence and all those things. So he's one of my favorite poets."

Ekambaram was born in India, where her mother works as a professional artist. But she's lived all over the place. She moved from India to Nebraska, back to India again, then to Georgia, Missouri and now, Utah. In India, Ekambaram worked as an engineer, but she does not have a U.S. work visa—which has been a blessing in disguise. Without such a demanding job, she has had a lot more time for working on her art, which is where her passions truly lie. 

"Even though I did engineering, it was never my calling,” Ekambaram said. “You know, in India, there's a thing where everybody expects you to get a professional degree. And so even though my mother was an artist, she was like, ‘You get your proper degree, and then if you want to pursue something else afterward, you do it then.’ I had good grades everything and got a job, but still, my calling was not there.”

Art has provided her with a lot more satisfaction than her "real" job ever did. Since coming to Utah, she's entered every art competition she could find and received honors in many. She took first place in her division in the 2020 South Jordan Community art show and also currently has some of her works on display at The Blocks in downtown Salt Lake.

"I feel I can be like an example to people, that they can go out of their zones and do something they love, and be recognized for it, because people usually think, the arts are only for people who can achieve the highest level,” Ekambaram said. “But it's not actually like that. If you keep trying, at some point of time, you know, something will click and you will be recognized.” 

Ekambaram's art can be viewed at City Hall until December, or on her Instagram page, @strokes.durga.

If you've ever set foot in a military aircraft facility, Maj. David Lankford's work will probably be immediately familiar to you. The retired Air Force veteran draws incredibly realistic aircraft, carefully rendered with mathematical precision, and prints of his work bedeck many a pilot's office walls. 

Lankford’s work will be at the South Jordan City Hall until December and can also be viewed at his website,