I started my blog post about my experiences in India when I was there in December and early January. I finally finished it and published it today on my website!
My original intention, while at at the Sanskriti Kendra, an artists' retreat on four beautifully manicured acres outside of New Delhi, was to focus my work on the Yamuna River. Running from the Himalayas through New Delhi, a city with 20 million inhabitants, it is the most polluted river in India.
However, when I arrived at the Sanskriti Kendra, I was fascinated by the trees scattered throughout the property and labeled in both Hindi and English with names such as Tree of Sadness, Bodhi tree, Krishna's Buttercup and Devil's Tree. In spite of the pall of acrid smog that hung in the air at night, they seemed to thrive on the property. In fact the first tree one sees upon entering the property is a huge Banyan growing out of the gold-colored earth. These trees spoke to me of resilience, surviving in this Indian sanctuary in spite of the polluted air and water.
I carefully documented each tree and collected leaves to incorporate into my art. Some of the shapes I replicated as a black silhouette on a golden ground. Other leaf shapes I incorporated into mixed media works in the vivid colors of the flowers and the women's saris. All are on beautiful handmade paper purchased from Rickshaw Recycle in New Delhi.
Since my return from India, I've continued to work on these 12" x 9" pieces. In March I plan to complete the process during a two week residency at an artists' retreat on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
The work will be shown in an exhibition at Studio@620 in St Petersburg, along with drawings created by young people in both India and in Florida that depict solutions to the problems of pollution. The exhibition, Sanctuary, East and West is scheduled to open in mid-May, 2017, and to run for three weeks.
My trip to India was funded by the Individual Artist's Grant I was awarded by Creative Pinellas last year. I am deeply grateful to have been afforded this remarkable experience.