The MFA thesis opening reception was great. There were lots of people, more than I expected. I heard around 500 people came to the opening. Everyone’s works looked great, and it was so good to see how people were enjoying the fruits of our labor.
I was very eager to see how people would respond to my work. Would they interact? Would they get inside the big pieces, or would they be hesitant? Once people started flooding the gallery I was quite surprised by the way people naturally interacted with my work. People were touching it, getting inside, looking around at the different shapes, and interpreting the work in their own way. Below are some memorable responses.
- A 7 year old boy asked me if he could buy the smallest piece (brown one). I asked him why he wanted that particular one. He said “This one is small, almost my size and I could carry it around easily.” I responded “Okay that’s good to know…How much money do you have?” He replied “Just three dollars for now.” I said “How about you fill up your piggy bank and we will talk about it.”
- An elderly lady walked in and exclaimed, “Wow this is lot of work, who is the artist here, are you?” I said yes I am. She asked, “Did it take you all your life to make this work?” I replied to her adding humor, “Yes, I started weaving when I was one month old.”
- One of my Nepali friends curiously asked me why only that particular room was darker. I told him “The power is out in this room and we are using generator to light only a few bulbs.” He laughed and said, “Ha! Exactly like in Nepal.” (Later I explained that the dim light was done intentionally to recreate the low light experience common in Nepal.”
- A Yoga instructor said she would totally love to meditate inside the big piece and even read a book.
- A mother of two kids said she would love to have something like the big piece for her kids to play inside.
- A young girl asked her mom, “Did this one fall down?” Her mom explained that it was supposed to be that way.
- One lady who had donated materials to me asked, “where were the materials I donated used?” I laughed and suggested she try and see if she could find where they were.
I saw many people enjoying, touching, and recognizing the materials that were familiar to them. It was also interesting to observe how people were using the work as a photo booth. Several parents captured the moment of their kids spinning in circles underneath the work. After the show I realized how quickly it all went. I have been waiting for this show reception for the past year, and it was over in the blink of an eye. The reception might be over, but the exhibition will be up through April 28th. I am so happy to be part of this show and a big congratulation to all my peers. WE DID IT!
I work between two and three dimensionalities, creating installations that merge traditional Nepali weaving with contemporary western materiality.
My process is inspired by the mats I learned to make growing up in Nepal, where my mother wove mats as part of her livelihood. Weaving in my culture is mostly an uneducated women’s job. As a fine artist, I weave mats with the same traditional techniques, introducing the art/craft/labor of those unprivileged women. In Nepal, mats are woven with agricultural waste products; in my work I reflect contemporary western culture’s waste by weaving discarded plastic bags, bed sheets and paper.
In weaving the sculptural piece, I contrast the inside and outside. The weaving style and natural colors represent my native culture, whereas the contemporary western materials and white paint represent my adopted culture. The inside and outside reflect my multicultural identity, how I shape it and how it is shaping me.
It’s been a while since my last post. This winter has been really busy. My husband and I bought a house in December, and during Christmas break I was busy pulling off wallpaper, scraping the sticky glue left behind, and painting walls before we could move. I never realized how many layers of work it takes before you paint a wall. In the midst of renovating and moving I was also thinking about grad school and the thesis project I am working on. There have been so many layers of work, thought process, research, mentorship, and critiques in my own work before I can call it done.
As I wove more and more I kept thinking about my multicultural identity – how I am shaping it and how it is shaping me. The other day I was chatting with my uncle on the phone and he kept laughing at me because I was mixing lot of Nepali and English words while speaking in my mother tongue (Newari). I also realized that nowadays my dreams are in Nepali instead of Newari. I am not aware of when the shift happened but when I realized it I got very sad and fearful. Most of my Newari friends living in United States do not speak Newari and I communicate with them in Nepali. My husband Peter lived in Nepal for long time and speaks fluent Nepali, so our conversations are a mix of Nepali and English, but I don’t have anyone to talk to in my native language except my family, who I only talk to every once in a blue moon.
I started wondering if my Nepali identity will slowly fade as I live more in mainstream American culture. I have lived here for 10 years now. What happens after I live here for 20 years, when I’ve been here longer than I lived in Nepal? How will my identity shift during that time?
Last time I was frustrated trying to collect materials for the project. Fortunately, I got a call back from a few hotels and was able to pick up about 500 bed sheets. Since then I have been dying a lot of bed sheets and preparing materials, which includes dying, cutting into strips, braiding etc. This time I was really being thoughtful about going from one process to another instead of jumping randomly. For example, previously I would cut the strips or braid enough for a day or less and think about adding or cutting more strips later. Spontaneous action is part of my personality. Even when I cook I start heating the pan before I have cut any vegetables. I do not prepare all the list at the beginning. So this time I forced myself to have everything ready before I started weaving. Therefore, the weaving is still in the cooking process. It might take a while before it gets done.
Below are some of the processes I have been doing so far. I started working in my apartment studio since the school’s studio space felt small for the piece I am working on. That is the reason you do not hear Bollywood movie playing on third floor studio right after you walk into the CCAD design building.
At this time I am realizing how little time I have left in this program, and how much more I have to get done. For now all I am thinking about is my final project. As I am in the process of working on this project I am weaving the stories of my life, my experience being in two cultures.
During the making process, as I sit in my studio with Bollywood or Netflix movies as my company, my work asks me what I am making and why? What prompted me to make this particular piece, or place it this way? Does it matter if it hangs or sits on the floor? Why painted and not painted? What makes it valuable?
I am also realizing how challenging it is for artists when they have to depend on materials from others. There are so many things that go on behind the scenes before the work turns into art. Brainstorming, research, experimenting, gathering supplies and materials, making, failing, making again, and finding space to present the finished work are some of the processes that go into art.
I don’t have answers to all of the questions going through my head, but I am glad to have questions for now. The main question today is where to get more materials. My hunt for materials is to be continued!!!!!
This summer felt really long for me. I had so much fun travelling to Dallas, Chicago and Colorado. I had more time to work on my projects and internship. Working with my mentor Andrea Myers and Professor Jeffrey Haase from Ohio State University during this summer was very fruitful for me in learning and experiencing how different minds work together in creating a work of art.
I was able to work on my studio project where I got to experiment different ways of transforming objects. This summer project is helping me brainstorm ideas for my thesis project. I am very excited as well as nervous about a year full of intense work on my plate.
Apart from my internship and studio projects, one of my pieces was selected for The Ohio State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition, professional category. I was honored to receive the ‘Creative Arts of Women Award’. Below are some pictures from the show.
I feel honored to have my art work selected for a collaborative fashion design project. Sheldyn Nicholson and Kennesha White used my piece to design dresses for the Columbus College of Art & Design senior fashion show. CCAD has a world-class fashion program, and I am excited to have my work be part of it.
In 2015, I found an old kitchen counter top on the sidewalk, waiting to be taken to the dumpster. I salvaged it, and used it as a canvas. I painted with acrylic, discarded plastic for texture, and a small mat woven with discarded plastic bags. I was exploring merging paint with plastic, as well as ways of creating texture without using traditional mediums.
A big shout out to these creative designers Sheldyn Nicholson and Kennesha White, for such a wonderful creation and enhancing the beauty of discarded materials. Thank you fashion department of CCAD for this great opportunity.