BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, August 31, 2022: Art, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore said, is the response of man’s creative soul to the call of the Real. Responding to their calling and illuminating various spheres of culture, life and nature, Colors of India came alive as 15 artists of Indian origin, all women, presented their work at a gallery reception on August 6, 2022 at the Alpharetta Arts center. Colors of India is a collaboration between India American Cultural Association (IACA) and the Alpharetta Arts Center. The efforts towards the event were envisioned, initiated, and coordinated by IACA member and Atlanta artist, Malika Ghosh Garrett.
The idea for an exhibition of this kind had been on Garrett’s mind since the 90s. “I had approached the High Museum and in 2005 I was the first Indian artist to have a solo exhibit there. Since then, I have worked diligently to connect with other Indian artists and kept connecting with different organizations and galleries to give us a chance to showcase Indian art and Indian artists,” Garrett said. With few shows in between, Garrett also presented an exhibit in the 2021 Festival of India. “But that was not enough, and I wanted a proper gallery exhibit so I approached the Alpharetta Arts Center and pitched them the idea in 2021- luckily Nancy was excited about the idea but said I would have to wait until 2022 and that’s when she gave me a slot for this show,” she added.
“IACA has been organizing art exhibitions during its annual flagship event, Festival of India since 1997. In 2021 it was named Shades of India. Thanks to the support of Alpharetta Arts Center, we were able to organize the event at the center and for a longer period, instead of Gas South Center, where the annual festival is held for a day, every year,” Chand Akkineni, President IACA said.
The Gallery reception on August 6, 2022 brought together well over 250 art aficionados who showed up to support their favorite artists. The event also featured performance by Atlanta-based singer/songwriter/pianist Anita Aysola who brings jazz, blues and Indian classical influences into her original songs along with some Indian delicacies.
The miscellany of art and the myriad of mediums artists use to express themselves creatively, offered an immersive experience transporting the viewer to India and beyond.
From documenting Indian history/culture to expressing collective emotions, these fifteen artists tell us how they view their role as creative contributors.
Bishnoi Women, Malika Garrett’s work of brightly clad women from the desert region of Rajasthan formed the cover art of the exhibition. “The images on my paintings come mostly from my personal experiences and I try and reveal what I have seen. Joy expresses itself in the form of bold colors. With my art, I celebrate life and experience quiet power, tranquility, and purpose.”
Reflective of her own exploration of differences between cultures and her experiences co existing with them, Neha Patel’s America depicts immigrant journey with an artistic twist alluding towards assimilation and so much more. Her goal, as she puts it, is to “symbolize the intersection of our Indian roots with modern design and technology; to weave the old with the new; to re-invent our belonging as a community.
Sarika Jaswani’s crochet art offered a distinctive perspective of art expression. Jaswani, a doctor by profession, extends her creativity in multiple directions, diverging into poetry and children’s stories with handmade illustrations. A certified crochet instructor from American Craft Council, Jaswani donates books to various underprivileged schools around the world.
Characterized by bold color and texture, Jaya Saxena’s grasp on color harmonies draws immediate attention. Saxena identifies most with abstract expressionism but also dabbles in loose figures, abstract florals, and landscapes. As an artist, she says her goal “is to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts.” She believes that is what art is about – using the tools at our hands to create something that is more than the technique or the mediums we use to create it.
Chaitali Nadkarni’s fascination and inspiration by traditional Indian art, art from the Renaissance and Baroque period are echoed in her use of light, colors, atmosphere, and depth. “I have developed my own style of painting which has evolved over the years. My personal favorite mediums to work with are Watercolors and Soft pastels. I also enjoy working with oils and acrylics. I believe art is a beautiful medium of expression,” her statement reads.
The apple did not fall far from the tree where Aalia Garrett is concerned. Her piece such as the Pieta, mirrors her growing up in a multi-ethnic household. Synthesizing eastern and western identities, her Pieta depicts Virgin Mary mourning the body of Jesus Christ, who is replaced by Lord Ganesh in the picture, an effort towards drawing similarities between sacrificial histories of Ganesh, brought back to life with his elephant head and Jesus’ resurrection. They both she concludes, are divine sons, conceived immaculately to represent divinity of a holy trinity.
Dr. Nisha Gupta, an associate professor of psychology at University of West Georgia, teaches the psychology of creativity, art therapy, and arts-based research as vehicles for personal and collective healing. A self-taught acrylic painter and experimental filmmaker, her delightful pieces of a woman and a man with vibrant backgrounds, absorbed in their own thoughts form perfect intersection of arts and psychology.
Ruma Das mostly works with colored pencils and other mediums like watercolor, pastels and oil. Her Strength of a Woman in colored pencil and watercolors brings alive a very realistic woman radiating her inner intensity.
The In Conversation pieceof Rajita Tippavajhala impeccably captures a woman facing a mirror, reflecting internally and externally as she gets ready to leave for an occasion. Primarily painting in oils, she concentrated on figurative painting and portraits. Since becoming a mother, she sates that she now paints with intention and is interested in telling a story with each painting, stories of strength, courage and vulnerability.
Monika Gupta’s approach to art involves tradition of classical realism. Her portraits of women showcase the strength and beauty of her subjects.
Aditi Chakrabarty sets on a journey to interpret ideas about herself and the world around her. Dabbling with multiple mediums, styles and concepts her artwork offer a unique perspective.
Having grown amidst creativity, Paromita Ghosh, with training from a renowned artist in India, strokes her canvas with enriched strides resonating her in depth knowledge of the matter.
Defining her style as modern Impressionism Sharmila Ghose Roy’s pieces include an assortment of subjects like waterscapes, figures, landscapes, animals and cityscapes, as she strives to capture the movement of light in all her works.
Meenal Patel’s splendid charcoal pieces embrace her subject matter with exquisite finesse, as do her oil paintings. The elephant piece embellished with intricate designs, Patel said took her only a week to complete!
An abstract-impressionist, Rina Data Chakravorty, though mainly a landscape artist, her deep-rooted connection to India has often been the subject of her art. She paints in watercolor, oil, and mixed media.
From ancient Indian artworks to thriving modern art India’s vivid visual tradition is the culmination of a diverse range of cultural influences. Replete with rich heritage, traditions and culture, art has the power to elicit universal emotions transcending boundaries. Exhibits such as these are also a step towards initiating conversations that bind us as people. And it certainly helps that the vivacious artwork in all its vivid glory is a vision to behold. As John Keats famously said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Experience it for yourself. The exhibit is open till September 23, 2022 at Alpharetta Arts Center, 238 Canton Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009.