June 28, 2011

Vintage India - Kerala

 This set of vintage pictures is from the state of Kerala, which will forever be my definition of a tropical paradise.  While living in the dorm at the University of Mysore, I became friends with a lovely woman named Bindu, who invited me and Pam (another foreign student) on the spur of the moment to travel with her for a long weekend to her home in the hills of  Malappuram.  She was homesick, and when we arrived after a lengthy bus ride, I could see why.  There she is, graceful and elegant in the picture above, with her father standing behind her.  Below is a view of a corner of her home, and if memory serves this woman was the cook, who really had a way with okra curry:
 Bindu's Amma (mother) and Appa (father) took us in as though we were their long-lost children, and as the weekend turned into an extended week and a half sojourn, I began to feel as though this really were my home, and only an accident of birth had originally landed me on the other side of the world.  They were Christians who proudly traced the origins of their faith back to St. Thomas, and we attended church with them.  The experience was made all the more interesting by their request, close to an insistence, that Pam and I wear our jeans, whereas we felt it would have been appropriate to dress up in skirts.  It became clear upon arrival at the church that the jeans enhanced our cache as exotic, blond, pants-wearing American women--I'm sure we were the talk of the village!
 The family was relatively well-to-do for the area, as they owned and ran a plantation.  Appa  piled us in his car and had his driver tour us around, showing us crops being harvested, tapioca being ground into a slurry and dried in the sun, and other tropical agricultural wonders.
 Here is Bindu's brother, who helped manage the family business.  Very handsome, no?
 The pay off, for me, of the jeans-in-church incident came a few days later, when we were called to the gates of the complex to meet an unusual visitor.  Bindu explained that he was from a tribe that lived in the forest and rarely ventured out.  (I believe in retrospect that he was an aboriginal man, an Advasi).  He had heard that there were blond women visiting and had come to see.  There was a language barrier, as he spoke only a few words of Malayalam, so mostly we stood and smiled and gestured.  I was struck by the realization that for him, Pam and I were, and would likely remain, the sole representatives of our race and nationality he would ever encounter, and vice-versa.  I smiled and gestured with extra enthusiasm, in an attempt to convey my goodwill.
It's a moment that has stayed with me, and one of the reasons there's absolutely no room for hatred or bigotry in my personal world view.

June 19, 2011

Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2011 -- Opening Reception

 I had a wonderful time at the opening reception for the Art of the State exhibit at the Pennsylvania State Museum last night.  I was thrilled and honored to receive an Honorable Mention award for my work, Watt & Shand #9.  This is a very classy and well run event and they do it up right, beginning with a brief awards ceremony.  As I was called up on stage to pick up the award, they flashed the image of my work on the screen on stage--definitely my 15 seconds of fame!
 Here's the view of the auditorium shortly before the ceremony started, to give a feel for the size of the crowd:
 Afterwards they had the award winners pose for a group photo; here I am trying not to blink:
 Then the doors to the exhibit space were opened and people streamed in, to view the art and demolish the great catered buffet.  Here's a shot of a portion of the gallery:
 And a panorama--that's me on the left:
Here's a brief video sweep of  one side of the gallery space to give a feel for the vibe:
I thought the quality of the works on view was excellent--many that delighted and excited, many that evidenced superior craftsmanship, and very few headscratchers.  It was a pleasure to walk around and examine the work, and especially to talk to some of the other artists.  I'm always hesitant to post pictures of others artists' work without express permission,  but you can see all the work on this Flickr site.  Better still, if you find yourself in Harrisburg over the summer, stop in at the Museum and see the exhibit in person, it is up until September 11th.

My deep and sincere thanks to the staff and volunteers at the Museum and the Greater Harrisburg Arts Council for providing such a rewarding exhibition opportunity.  It's potentially a bit disconcerting to switch from spending a great deal of time alone and hard at work in the studio, to meeting and greeting at a public venue like an opening, but last night was a pure pleasure.  I am so amazed and grateful when people come up to talk to me about my work and I get to tell the stories behind it that motivate and drive me. 

June 14, 2011

Vintage India - Chennakeshava and Hoysaleswara Temples

 This set of vintage 1974 India photos are from two ancient temples in Karnatak State.  Chennakesava Temple in Belur dates from 1117 CE and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Above is the view of the tiered steps to the main temple; below is the Gopura at the entrance to the temple complex.
 I had forgotten this picture existed and was delighted to rediscover it;  I certainly look delighted to be there:

 Nearby is the Hoysaleswara Temple in Halebidu, which dates from 1121 CE:
 Both temples are renowned for their magnificent carvings.  Here are Siva and Parvathi at Hoysaleswara:
 I'm no longer certain which of the temples I took these pictures at, but I present them for your enjoyment nonetheless:
 I love the way the girl's hand mirror the sculpture in this photo:
 All the pictures enlarge when you click on them.

If you are new here and enjoying my blast from the past, you can see more vintage India photos in previous blog posts from Tamil Nadu, Bombay,  and the Taj Mahal and Agra.  And there's many more wonderful images to come, so stay tuned!

June 11, 2011

Images 2011 Opening Reception

 I had a wonderful time at the opening reception for Images 2011 at the Robeson Gallery on the campus of Penn State University last night.  As always, it was a quality exhibit, well arranged and well lit, in an excellent gallery space.  The food was tasty also!  Here I am with my Watt & Shand #4, above, and a panorama shot showing it in situ below (all pictures enlarge if you click on them):
Below is another portion of the gallery, and the enthusiastic crowd:

Here's my friend Anni Matsick, with her Raveled.  Anni is a very talented and professional watercolorist and illustrator.  She has two pieces in this show, and it was wonderful to spend some time with her and her work.

 My friend and fellow fiber artist Marcia DeCamp has three pieces in the show, and her Storm Clouds at Sunrise won an Award of Merit:
 Below is a panorama that also shows her Jet Trails #8 on the right:
 Here's the truly remarkable thing about this exhibit.  Ron Rumford, this year's juror, used the textile pieces as the basis for pulling together his choices.  I'm going to quote from his Juror's Statement, as printed in the show booklet (hopefully it will be up in its entirety on the website soon):

"Upon reviewing all submissions for Images 2011, a particularly strong group of textile works set the bar high.  Their structures--piece quilts built from shapes of cloth and constructed by stitching are from a grand tradition of functional and utilitarian work that now straddles high art with highly sophisticated design, pattern and color and the folk art tradition of quilt making.  The approach of these 6 artists varies significantly and this strengthened the impact within the overall pool of submissions.  It soon became clear that these works would become the fulcrum on which the exhibition wanted to be balanced.

With their structures evident, the visual building blocks of other works began to resonate and rhyme.  Geometry is the common path these works take to clue us into how we are to read them.  Elemental triangles, squares and circles are the bedrock organizing principals of all visual arts.  They are prehistoric signs and the base language for a visual literacy.  Content and cultural references are grown out of this same system and it serves to signal our common origins.  These origins include a need to make a recognizable order and point of entry for all viewers."

Wow...it is such a thrill to see my medium of choice treated with such understanding and respect!  You can see the work of the other textile artists, as well as the rest of the exhibit, on the website here.  If you are anywhere nearby it's well worth a visit--it's up until July 17th, which coincides with the Festival of the Arts.  I'll be back in town then, for my role as a juror, and am looking forward to getting another chance to view the exhibit.

And last but by no means least, here's a great candid shot Anni took of Rick Bryant, the Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.  He and his stellar staff make it all possible, and make it look easy.  Thank you!

June 9, 2011

Vintage India - Tamil Nadu

 This set of vintage photos is from the beautiful state of Tamil Nadu, on the south east coast of India.  While there I dipped my toes in the Indian Ocean, a transcendent experience for a small town girl whose previous beach experience was a single trip to Atlantic City, NJ.
 I visited the beach temple of Mahabalipuram, above, and detail, below:
 I toured the Meenakshi Temple, in Madurai, and I still remember it vividly.  The painted carvings are intricate and fascinating:
 I climbed up the interior and leaned out precariously to pose for this shot:
 And from that vantage point took this photo:
 On this next set I am perhaps fudging it a bit--I prefer positive identifications, but memory has faded, and intensive google image searching has failed to turn up anything definitive.  I believe it is a Jain temple shrine in Tamil Nadu, but can't be sure.  It's wonderful, regardless, so I am including it. Here's the approach to the shrine:
 A group of school children on an outing waiting in the line, along with a coconut water vendor:
 The view I had while shuffling very slowly up a long line to the statue in the shrine:
 The gorgeous view back over my shoulder while waiting in line, of flooded rice paddies:
 The statue at the top of the shrine, with a ceremony underway:
 Attendants and visitors to the shrine, looking a bit askance at the foreign visitors:
If you are new here, you can see more vintage photos by clicking on "India" under Labels in the right toolbar.  I am revisiting my time there as a student in the 1970's in preparation for a return trip later this summer.  So stay tuned, and thanks for reading.