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Teacher Biography: Satish Joshi

Charlotte Brosnan

Where did you grow up?

New Delhi, India. Prior to that, Satish Joshi grew up in a small village on the border of Pakistan and India. He was born before the partition, so the village in which he was born was originally in Indian territory. After 1947, he moved into India because his family was Hindu in a now Pakistani territory.

How many siblings or family members did you have?

Mr. Joshi grew up with seven siblings: three sisters and four brothers. He was the middle child and the middle of the boys.

What was your favorite class in high school? Least favorite class?

Mr. Joshi hated high school not because of the content, but because of the overcrowded classes and teachers not knowing anyone’s name. He recalls being assigned a number for roll call. This inspired much of his choice of where to teach; he needed an environment where one can be heard.

When did you know you wanted to be a teacher?

Mr. Joshi never planned to be a teacher. He was introduced to Riverdale by a neighbor. He was hesitant about teaching but with more and more experience, he knew how he wanted to teach: a personal one-to-one connection with his students.

He stayed at Riverdale for 37 years, until 2011. He left a huge impact on the school, leaving with several sculptures on campus. The art department went from three people to seven, and a new art center with five major studios was bulit. He ran workshops every summer, inspiring and encouraging his students.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

 He knew ever since he was a child. His visual memory was very strong, and he imitated what he saw. He jokingly made cartoons about people—fascinated with being able to do something that no one else could around him. He was most comfortable expressing himself through art.

Two events solidified his passion for art and boosted his confidence. He drew a portrait as a teenager of the President of India. It was presented to the respectable president and is still currently hanging in the Presidential Palace. He did a course with the Royal Drawing Society of England and passed the course with honors. These early years of exploring art gave him further encouragement. He went to art school at the New Delhi of Art for five years. He then worked in an art education center as an instructor and started a television series interviewing other young artists.

He loves that art makes you curious and makes you constantly learn—being a teacher taught him that even more. It is a continuous flow of new inspiration and information. Being in the arts is feeding your soul and expressing your soul.

At what age did you come to America? Why?

He came to America around 23 years old. He wanted a new freedom in Western civilization. It was completely foreign, and he was very curious. He felt a strong sense of restriction and tradition in his environment that did not help him be who he really was.

Another draw to America was that he constantly studied and admired these pieces by famous artists but never saw their original work. America was a chance to be exposed to these artists firsthand.

He was invited to a summer camp to visit. Joshi received a visitor’s visa and stayed the rest of his life. He arrived at JFK with eight dollars and a one-way ticket. He had learned English in school but had never really spoken it in an authentic setting. The first time he spoke English was at the airport after he drew a portrait of a traveller. The traveler asked Joshi how much for the sketch and Joshi replied with I’m hungry. He was paid with a cup of coffee and a donut. That was the most important piece of artwork he ever sold in his entire life.

Who inspires your artwork the most?

Henri Matisse. Joshi appreciates that Matisse’s work got better and simpler with time. He describes Matisse’s work like “poetry with color and lines like no one else could.”

Which artist do you admire the most?

For sculpture, it has to be Auguste Rodin. Joshi said that Rodin was capable of expressing human emotions through a cold piece of stone.

What medium do you prefer to use? Why?

Printmaking in winter and sculpture in summer. He says that it really depends on the season and mood. He likes to mix up the mediums he tries every day.

What do you enjoy painting the most?

His last 45 years of work has been based upon the simple subject of light and how the light and life began through it. In the 70s and 80s, he focused on the origin of life form through the Big Bang Theory. He continues the pursuit of light. He also enjoys painting humans.

What do you love about Holy Child?

The atmosphere! Joshi says that the calming environment is impressive. He likes coming to school and enjoying the civil environment. There is a healthy respect for one another—civility. The teachers adore their students and the students adore their teachers.

“The next generation—be curious and inquire and look for different answers. Be individuals and make your own path. Look at all different perspectives and learn from them. You will become a better person because of that.” – Satish Joshi

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