Deepsikha is a costume designer and costume historian teaching at Hunter College CUNY. In September 2023 she finished her Ph.D. from CUNY Graduate Center with her dissertation entitled, SPECTACLE ON THE FRINGE: MASKS, MATERIALITY, AND MOVEMENT IN SOUTH ASIA, under the mentorship of Peter Eckersall, Jim Wilson, and Claudia Orenstein. She is looking forward to sharing more about this research. She is currently in conversation with several presses for the publication of this research.
At Hunter College she enjoys teaching a diverse student body helping them visualize play scripts and ideas into living, breathing characters. She also helps students learn to sew, make patterns, make masks, run wardrobe, and create their work. She helps students gain an understanding of performance traditions from Asia, especially South Asia including India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka and their visual aspects in textiles, crafts, masks, and makeup. At Hunter College, she teaches courses in Costume, Fashion Cultural Studies; Costume Design; Visual Elements of Design; Introduction to Theatre, World Theatre, Costume Crafts; Costume Technology; and Stage Makeup. Here she was awarded Outstanding Undergraduate Student Research Mentor in 2015.
For several years she has received PSC CUNY grants (internal competitive CUNY grants for faculty) to conduct research in India, Nepal, and forthcoming research in Indonesia in 2024.
In 2022 Deeps designed Marriage of Figaro in Indian historical style for Opera San Jose. See more here https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/music/review-a-superb-new-figaro-sets-its-marriage-ceremony-in-colonial-india
In 2021, Deeps was honored to receive the Herbert D. Greggs Honor Award from USITT for her essay "Ahariya Aesthetics" in USITT's TD&t journal, summer 2020 issue. See more, https://www.usitt.org/news/2021-award-winners-announced
In 2020, several of her peer-reviewed articles for prestigious US and UK scholarly journals were published including a widely taught article "Cultural Appropriation". She received PSC CUNY grants to conduct research in Seraikella Chhau, a masked dance form in eastern India, and in 2021 she received a PSC CUNY grant and a DSRG grant from CUNY Graduate Center to research Bhairab Nach, a masked dance form in Nepal.
Another area of her research has been on Bollywood and Indian film costuming, for which she receieved an USITT grant with Cheri Vasek in 2010-11. Together their research has been published in various blind peer reviewed journals. Before the pandemic, her conference paper on Bollywood costumes was to be presented in Leiden, Netherlands.
In 2019 Deeps published peer-reviewed articles for Dress (Taylor and Francis) and Asian Theatre Journal. She published a book review in Fashion Theory (Taylor and Francis). She conducted ethnographic research on mask making in Assam, India.
Deeps was awarded the Best Costume Design Award at United Solo in 2017 for her designs for Hide Your Fires.
See more: http://unitedsolo.org/us/the-2017-united-solo-awards-have-been-announced/
Deepsikha was awarded the Best Costume Design Award in 2014 by United Solo for the production of artist Yokko's Butoh Medea
Deeps grew up in India spending her growing years observing traditional Indian textiles and crafts around her.
She received her Bachelors degree in fashion design from the reputed National Institute of Fashion Technology where she received a letter of special appreciation for her thesis collection on adapted clothing for children with cerebral palsy.
She also received a Bachelors of Science in Psychology from University of Madras. She worked in the global manufacturing industry where she worked in the sampling department overseeing knitwear clothing- coordinating manufacturing from samples to bulk orders in factories in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
In 2003 she moved to the US to receive her MFA in costume design from Florida State University. Over the years she has worked at several theatres and operas across the US including Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Utah Shakespearean Festival among others.
She has taught at SUNY Albany and is now a tenured lecturer at Hunter College CUNY.
In recent years she has focused on studying and documenting costumes from Asia, especially masks and costumes in Indian theatre, dance and films. She has presented on these topics at several international venues including USITT and the Rubin Museum of Art in New York. Currently she is pursuing her PhD at CUNY Graduate Center.
In 2018 Deeps' presentation Can Non-Traditional Design & Direction Illuminate the Unknowns? was presented at USITT Diversity, Inclusion and Community panel.
In 2018 Deeps served as Hunter College Mellon Foundation for Arts Fellowship mentor to theatre department student Joshwald Martinez for promoting diversity in the arts.
In 2017 Deeps desiged I Am, I Will, I Do by Dan Manjovi for NYMF 2017. Directed by Christopher Scott
She designed Shinka (a Butoh piece) with her long time collaborator Yokko for Capital Fringe in DC for 2017. Read reviews of her work here http://dcmetrotheaterarts.com/2017/07/14/2017-capital-fringe-review-shinka/
In 2017 Deeps served as Hunter College Mellon Foundation for Arts Fellowship mentor to theatre department student Joyce Lim for promoting diversity in the arts.
Since 2017, Deeps has also joined as the Dance Director for the Indian American Arts Council to help mount the Erasing Borders Dance Festival. This festival brings eminent Indian Classical dancers from around the world to the NYC stage. For more on this see http://www.iaac.us/IAAC_dance_fest2017/index.htm
Masks created by students at SUNY Albany in Costume Crafts class.