Meenakshi Dash Jersey City Mural
Photograph courtesy Meenakshi Dash

My Culture Collection: Meenakshi Dash

The world-sampling artist-designer-entrepreneur shares the merits of bold, bright Marni pieces, diving deep—and a home-baked Game of Thrones cake.

With a BFA in painting from the Art Institute of Chicago and an MBA from Booth, Meenakshi Dash is as adept at making business decisions as she is at making neon street murals in New Jersey or necklaces of melted-down silver she procures from Indian pawn shops. At bal’dər-dăsh’, the one-woman multidisciplinary art and jewelry studio she founded in 2009, Dash draws on influences from her international upbringing—from Delhi to Brooklyn, Chicago to London, Singapore, and China. Now based in Jersey City, she’s equally omnivorous in her cultural samplings. We asked her what she’s into this winter. 

Jewelry: Vintage and Marni 

I’m very picky about my jewelry. The workmanship has to be exquisite. I have a magpie-like collecting habit and wear lots of bold pieces. Today, it’s a vintage tribal silver ring from India that my mom wore for 40 years, Meenakshi Dashwooden faux-plug hoop earrings from Bali, two rings of my own design made of recycled silver, and this Marni bright-yellow necklace. I’m not a big brand-name person—I never buy in-season and don’t follow trends—but I feel like Marni totally gets me. 

Art: Brooklyn Museum 

I’m back to making art. I live and breathe art. The Brooklyn Museum recently did this amazing exhibition of the street-art duo FAILE, who are around my age and probably attended art or design school when I did. I like that the museum takes risks on artists not first represented by the MoMa, Guggenheim, or the Whitney. The Brooklyn Museum has also shown a lot of artists I love such as Kehinde Wiley and Ai Weiwei. 

Shoes: Nike Air Rift 

I’m kind of a sneakerhead. I’ve been buying some version of the Nike Air Rift since it first came out in the 90s. I usually get two pairs so I can wear, say, a gold one on my left foot and silver on my right. They’re the most comfortable shoes.

We hover like water bugs on the surface of these 300-foot-deep limestone wells, timidly snorkeling.

Meenakshi Dash

TV: Vikings and Game of Thrones 

Vikings isn’t so popular in the United States, but it’s big in Europe and Asia. It’s loosely based on how the Vikings moved across northern Europe into England. I love it, especially since the women in it are so strong. And their hair is amazing. My husband (Richard Williams, ’08) is obsessed with Game of Thrones, so we watch that a lot, though I like the books better. We bake elaborate Game of Thrones cakes: I cut out stencils of dire wolves or dragons, and draw their portraits in icing. 

Books: Deep, by James Nestor 

My husband recently got me this great book about free diving, which explains how humans are naturally predisposed to dive. If you believe in one theory of the evolutionary cycle, we come from the sea. I’m mesmerized by people with the urge to free dive, which I’ve never done, though I love snorkeling and scuba diving. Whenever we can, my husband and I go to these 300-foot-deep, crystal-clear limestone wells in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. But we merely hover like water bugs on the surface, timidly snorkeling. 

Food: Mission Cantina 

If I hadn’t gone to art school, I would have gone to culinary school. Lately, I’m a little obsessed with Danny Bowien’s Mission Cantina and Mission Chinese restaurants in New York. I love his completely crazy combinations of spices and flavors. Bowien is so innovative that the dishes taste like nothing I’ve ever had. Mission’s hand-pulled burrata with fresh anchovies is always delicious, as are the micheladas and margaritas. And their veggie burrito is our go-to late-night binge. 

—As told to Carey Dunne