Vidya Cowsik Santosh is designer, artist, and educator based in New York City. She is committed to building user-centered experiences that help people creatively integrate their experiences, values, and identities. As a senior designer at Local Projects, she worked with the Equal Justice Initiative to create and launch The Legacy Museum in 2017. She continues to pursue equity and healing through her work as a teaching artist with organizations like City Lore and as a training member of the DEI-focused Big Apple Playback Theatre company.
Vidya enjoys actively decolonizing her relationship to her own ancestral art forms. She is investigating the South Indian ritual graphic art of kolam and has been a bharatanatyam dancer (classical Indian dance theater) for over 20 years — currently working with Malini Srinivasan and the Gitanjali Dance School. Vidya’s practice and pedagogy emphasize mindfulness, breath work, and asana, integrating lifelong training in yoga and Vedanta. Vidya holds a B.F.A. in Communication Design from Washington University in St. Louis.
"For me, TAP was equal parts teaching and artistry. It was a master class in facilitation. The staff expertly embodied “the medium is message” theory, modeling the very tools they were teaching. I found language and framework that gave me the confidence to dive right away into residencies with other organizations. At the same time, with a decade of client services work standing between me and art school, watching my fearless, talented peer trainees played a critical role in building the confidence to accept the mantle of “artist.”
"I interned at P.S. 85Q with Amanda Newman and Libby Mislan, whose integration of movement and poetry resonated with me. I learned from their restraint in leaving ample time and space for emergence in the classroom. The pandemic sadly interrupted the internship, but the TAP Cohort stepped in with exemplary leadership in extraordinary circumstances. Timely and topical webinars with incredible facilitators provided both solace and inspiration. I was even able to conduct my own training, “Movement and Theater in Online Spaces.” I synthesized learnings from TAP training, teaching work, and playback theater experiences to conduct a session where the medium was the message."
Most Memorable TAP Moment:
“I was feeling decidedly un-kumbaya during a TAP workshop when Andre emptied his lungs into a didgeridu. It was the first time I’d heard the instrument, and something primordial opened its eyes. The sound was all-pervading, coming not only from around me but also from within me. It wasn’t until much later that I put words to its — and his — bellowing call. They asked us to listen. Listen deeply and closely, and then go and tell what we hear to anyone who is ready for a bit of authenticity. And also to everyone who’s not.”
Find out more about Vidya here:
The cadence of this tongue
Feels like home
Even when I can’t understand it
Even when it’s lost on my tongue
Transported to a time
When my tongue had yet to find it
When I understood nothing
Yet I knew one thing:
The sounds that moved
The very walls around me
Were the voices
Of my people