The Merchants of Whitefish Bay strive to improve our community and support all of our Merchant members. We aim to highlight the local establishments to increase awareness for everyone in our neighborhood and beyond.
Bela Suresh Roongta is an artist, writer and storyteller guided by her immigrant experience and work as a lawyer, domestic violence advocate and community activist. In the summer of 2021, just as the world was beginning to open back up, Bela quietly moved her boutique art studio from the Third Ward to The Berkeley Building in Whitefish Bay.
Born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Bela became a citizen more than 20 years after immigrating to the United States with her parents and only sister. She graduated with her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Iowa College of Law, and practiced law for 10 years before becoming an artist.
As a lawyer, it was Bela’s job to listen, capture and give voice to her clients’ often intimate stories. Listening to and capturing these stories left her in awe of the human experience and our capacity to endure. It is this insight, understanding and sensitivity that Bela brings to her art practice.
As a young girl, Bela loved henna, the art of her East Indian ancestors. Even now this practice of adorning the hands and feet with a paste made from the finely ground leaves of the henna plant takes her back to India— to the women and artisans who came before her and the ones who continue to honor and pass this tradition on from one generation to the next.
It is this practice that inspires Bela’s own art. Drawing free hand she borrows from the intricate patterns and shapes of this ancient art form to bring her drawings to life. Bela’s art is a love letter from the West to the East, and the East to the West. It dances with memory and tradition, explores identity, and tells of the times we live in.
Bela believes strongly in the power of human connection and is guided by her conviction that it is in each other’s stories that we find the beauty of the human spirit. She is excited to bring her brand of storytelling to Whitefish Bay and invites you to stop by her studio for art, conversation, and community building. While there, you can shop her collection of fine art, limited edition prints, greeting cards, books and clothing featuring her original art and the stories it tells.
As a recipient of the Governor’s Special Recognition Trailblazer Award for Women in Business and a Writer-in-Residence for one of Milwaukee’s most iconic landmarks, The Pfister Hotel, Bela has been recognized for innovation and success in business, art and storytelling. She has shown work throughout North America and Canada and is a published author and featured poet.
Bela is in her studio most days and welcomes visitors. So, feel free to stop by. But if you want to be sure to catch her, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment. Her studio is located at 409 E. Silver Spring Dr., The Berkeley Building, Second Floor.
You can also learn more about Bela’s art, storytelling, and special events by following her on Instagram @belasuresh and Facebook @ Bela Suresh Roongta. Please also visit her website @belasuresh.com to view her portfolio, read her blogs and shop her collection of fine art, prints, clothing and books.