American Desi Explosion

I just finished another painting for An-Noor.  It is mixed media on canvas, with gold and silver leaf, acrylic paint, glitter, and rhinestones.  20″ x 60.”

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This painting is of my friend Sheeza and her daughter Sarah.  Sheeza was like an older sister to me growing up.  She is a natural leader, who loves to be challenged, and her daughter Sarah (4 at the time) wanted to be a fairy when she grew up so she could “do magic for all of her friends.”   I photographed them over a year ago, and I wanted their painting to emphasize Sheeza’s role as a mother, and a leader…to capture that magical quality of Sarah’s youth… and the connection between the two of them.  They were amazing during the photoshoot.

I styled this painting like “Inner Sun.”  After having worked with this layering of geometric and organic shapes once before, I felt like I was able to manipulate the design, colors, and materials to a much greater degree.  The most “energetic” part of the design is at the point of connection between Sheeza and Sarah.  Where their gaze meets.  This design is clearly born out of their relationship, expanding into a bright, bedazzled, American desi explosion over their heads.  And of course there is a “halo” of sorts that circles them.

I have been really submerging myself in the South Asian aesthetic, which is obvious in this painting.  My aim was to really push the boldness and the femininity.  I wanted the design to go”Pow!”  Since Maesta, I have been really feeling this pull towards adornment – beading, sequins, rhinestones, mica, pearls.  I want to harness these ultra-feminine materials in work that emphasizes feminine strength.  My heart tells me “more is more” and to “overdo” it.  But then when the painting is complete it doesn’t feel like too much, it even feels restrained.

I still need to come up with a title… will update when it comes to me.

Process and detail pictures in the gallery.

Tree of Life

This month at Pleiades Gallery, our show title is “Surge.”  Starting with this word, I worked to come up with an idea for a painting, but got sidetracked when I saw that a number of my Facebook friends had shared this link (Warning: the videos at the end of the article are extremely upsetting).

I don’t really know how to talk about all this.  I literally screamed when watching that video (I got through only part of one of them).  I still cry when I think about it, weeks later.  And that’s just a fucking video.

I’m still sitting here, with everything I could ever need, and I do not have to fear that someone will try to deliberately harm me, my toddler, or anyone I love.

After I watched that, I turned on the news.  I expected it to be on every news channel, with special reports.  There was nothing.

I went to all the news websites I usually read.  NOTHING.

And then a few days later, everyone was talking about Syria.  Everyone was suddenly an expert on it.   The whole discussion was extremely political.  Whether to invade or not.  Which groups of brown people are tied to which other, very scary, groups of brown people  It just seemed so disconnected, so irrelevant, maybe a deliberate attempt to stir up our partisan passions so that we wouldn’t see what is actually happening in our world.

I get that the US has got to take care of ourselves, that there’s plenty of awful shit to deal with in our own country.  There are children who fear for their lives when they walk to school every day, even here.  I’m not a proponent of bombs or violence as a general rule.  But I’m not talking about any of that.  How privileged are we, that we can discuss the pros and cons of military intervention, that we feel safe enough to say Obama is wrong, and broadcast these opinions on our Facebook pages… without ever once having to consider that this is all about people.  We can live our lives without even being *aware* of anyone else’s situation but our own.  That’s kind of a beautiful thing, I suppose, probably part of why my family came to this country.  But now everything is just about these assholes spitting out crazy hypotheticals on the news.  And when it comes to actual human beings frothing at the mouth and dying en masse, we can just turn a blind eye.  Snooki’s on dancing with the stars this season!  It’s all treated the same.

I also get that we can’t just walk around crying about all the awful stuff going on in the world.  And that it’s also okay to watch Snooki on Dancing with the Stars.  I know that you must take care of your own kids, and hug them tight, and keep them so safe.  But it all made me feel helpless and small, and now I’m writing a blog post about it.  Jeez.
So I say all of this without any kind of conclusion, or lesson, or resolve for how we should live our lives better or differently.  I have no answers.

I made some art about it.  The title of this piece is “Tree of Life” (someone actually came into the gallery before the painting had a title and made the comparison – thank you, whoever you are).  The picture isn’t the best.

mixed media: acrylic paint, gold and silver leaf, sequins, glitter

mixed media: acrylic paint, gold and silver leaf, sequins, glitter

I believe in beauty.  I wanted to make something beautiful.  But to me, this painting is sad.  The heart is frozen and the flowers are wilted, even though they sparkle.

I am donating 50% of this sale to this group, and iA the donation will be enough to provide a tent to shelter a family of 5.  This piece will be up through October 6th at Pleiades Gallery in Durham.  The show opens on Friday.