# Arts in Milwaukee – Bela Suresh Roongta – art, design, literature
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Arts in Milwaukee

A Public Service Of Milwaukee Artist Resource Network

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  • “Milwaukee Skyline Limited Edition Canvas Print”Milwaukee Skyline Limited Edition Canvas Print

    Ivory on Black mounted to 1/4 inch gator board. Original drawing archival ink on paper.

Bela Suresh Roongta

  • Art
  • Design
  • Literature
I am an Art Professional I am a Design Professional I am a Literary Professional

artist bio

Bela Suresh Roongta is an artist, writer and storyteller. She is the Pfister Hotel's 2019-20 Narrator-in-Residence (Writer-in-Residence) and recipient of the 2016 Governor’s Special Recognition Trailblazer award for Women in Business. Bela is also an attorney and the owner of a boutique studio featuring her original ink, graphite & collage drawings as well as her fashion-forward collection of tees, tanks & hoodies for the active lifestyle, limited edition prints, books, journals and stationery featuring her hand drawn designs and the stories they tell. Born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to parents of East-Indian descent but raised in the West, Bela's art is her East meets West. Bela's search to learn more about the India from which she came led to her love and passion for the art of East-Indian henna. This ancient practice as well as her strong belief in each person's right to tell their story and be heard is at the heart of her art and storytelling. Just as the hands and feet provide a living canvas for the art of henna, Bela's art lives through the clothes we wear, the homes we live in and the stories we tell.

artist statement

My art and storytelling tells of our collective experiences, shared humanity and most sacred right to be seen and heard. I believe strongly in the power of human connection and am guided by my conviction that it is in each others’ stories that we find the beauty of the human spirit.

I have been storytelling since becoming a lawyer in 1994. As a lawyer it was my job to listen, capture, and give voice to my clients’ stories. I practiced this skill by writing letters, memorandums, and briefs advocating for and on behalf of my clients. I then continued this work as the Director of Courthouse Advocacy for the Task Force on Family Violence (now Sojourner Family Peace Center) working with clients sharing far more intimate stories. Listening to and capturing these stories left me in awe of the human experience and our capacity to endure when we are able to share our stories and be heard. It is this understanding and sensitivity that I bring to my art.

Born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to East Indian parents but raised in the West, I grew up disconnected from my family and culture. So after 6 years, I left the practice of law to discover and explore my roots. While in India, I fell in love with the practice of East Indian henna, the art of my ancestors. Taking pen to paper I now draw in the tradition of henna and my ancestors. I play with words, lines and the spaces in between capturing the complexities of our past, the times we live in, and the beauty of the human spirit.