EYE ON INDIA
JUL 21 - SEP 1
About the Exhibit
By Shakuntala Maheshwari
Eye on India showcases my collection of photographs of India, as seen through my own eyes. I aim to give you a glimpse of the diverse beauty of India and experience the joy I felt in capturing these moments.
These photos are a collection of over 14 years of travel to various places within the country. Some of the photographs are presented as triptychs to evoke stories and bring you a more immersive experience.
Photography is my way of telling the story of my travels. I love to capture the feeling of a place with architecture and history in mind. My photographs reflect my love for colors, texture, old buildings and the ever-changing displays of mother earth.
I was born in Rajasthan, India, a state known for its princes and palaces, but grew up experiencing the simplicity of village life. I have fond memories of grinding wheat, spinning cotton, and participating in various folk arts such as henna, rangoli, embroidery and beadwork. As a teenager, I began using my father's camera to take portraits of family members. I was fascinated by the ability to capture moments and experimented with various art forms, using my pocket money to purchase materials. Art became an important part of my life. When I moved to the US, I had the opportunity to explore different mediums while studying graphic design at North Hennepin Community College. There, I fell in love with black & white photography and the darkroom process. My husband and I love to travel, and this gave me the chance to capture various situations and moments with my family. I found the beauty of natural light, and experienced far-flung locations from Brazil to Iceland, Vietnam to Italy. But I still find myself drawn back to India again and again. Through photography, I have been able to revisit my youth and capture the different perspectives and history found in every corner of India. In my photographs, I aim to capture the glory and mystery of history, the vibrant life of the village, and the stories embedded in the stones. I enjoy wandering the streets and capturing moments of ordinary people's lives.
Lead by Shakuntala Maheshwari
Introduction to Tribal and Folk Art of India
SUNDAY, AUGUST 27TH @1PM
There are so many different types of tribal and folk art of India and through this workshop, we will explore all of them. Shakuntala will showcase how to do Rangoli, an art form in which beautiful patterns are created by using colorful sand.
About the Artist
Growing up in Rajasthan, India, my memories from childhood are of the simple memories of village life. Weddings were the best times, when we dressed up and applied henna on our hands. More than an art form, the application of henna was a social event for all the women in the community. I spent hours learning how to create the intricate designs on my own hand. The constant exposure to folk art sparked my interest in many different art forms. I started painting and decorating household objects, from drinking glasses to pottery. My family and friends were impressed with what I did and gave me encouragement and opportunities to continue pursuing my interest.
In college, I majored in biology, but the most interesting part for me was creating incredibly detailed drawings of anatomy and plants. Got interested in textile watching the tailor to cut and stitch beautiful fabric transform in to beautiful dress for me. I learned machine embroidery in India after I got married. I used to do hand embroidery from the time I was in school. I love designing for embroidery and painting. My mom always let me make the designs for her saree (dress she wore six yard of fabric) and let me decorate the house with paints. I even painted the drinking water glass cups with acrylic paints for neighbors and for the house. That was my first commission work I did. Six yard of fabric for Saree is long to work on; it taught me patience and skills. I never threw small fabric away used to make some thing useful for the house out of scraps.
After college, I tried even more art forms - beadwork, wire sculpture, and batik. I also made my first forays into painting, clay, and plaster-of-paris sculpture. I had my first one-person art show in Bombay, where I showed paintings, embroidery, sculpture, and decorated textiles. For this show I have painted and embroidered around 20 sarees. Not sold sarees I changed them with embroidery and bead work for gifting.
After I married, I came to the US and started displaying my work at local art shows. As my kids started going to school, I started teaching art but soon realized I was the one that needed to learn more. I started learning at North Hennepin Community College, and received a certificate in Graphic Design in 1993. This was an incredible experience for me. I was exposed to new ways of creating and expressing myself. I experimented with all different mediums - pastel, watercolor, pen-and-ink, mixed-media, and photography. I particularly fell in love with photography and the darkroom process. The most important gain from North Hennepin was that I started to develop my own personal style.
At home I was sewing for kids, husband and for myself. I got the sewing machine after one month I came to US. I was mixing painting and embroidery together for decorating dresses for my kids. I was commission for 20 dresses for Aquatennial young participants for two three years. In 1995-96 I opened my own gallery, Shakuntala Gallery on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. This was a great learning experience for me, and while it was an enjoyable experience, it became quite time consuming.
When the city began to demolish the buildings, I closed the gallery and ran my business out of my home and also started teaching more. After attending workshops at Intermedia Arts I became the roster artist for Young Audiences. I began to integrate elements from my Indian heritage with modern methods and mediums. The folk arts from my childhood, specifically the arts of henna and rangoli, became a important part of my art teaching. I started to demonstrate and teach these arts in schools and various cultural festivals.
My journey has started as a art teacher, I was attending conferences and learning more about developing the lesson plan and skills for teaching. I started teaching adults through community education in different towns. I have taught framing, hand coloring b&w photos, drawing, painting, glass painting, stain glass, mosaic, etc. I started to work with various art organizations for teaching. I have taught students from Pre-K through seniors, from special needs to advanced art artists. My students have spanned the socioeconomic spectrum as well - from private schools to community centers in underserved neighborhoods. It gives me great satisfaction to pass my knowledge to the next generation.
One-time 2001, somebody at art start asked me to teach batik I have done the process but did not know any thing about dyes I started digging in my collection of books and at the library. Projects did not come out how I planned it. It was big learning experience. I started to experiment with paints, wax and dyes at home. I always love to paint on fabric especially silk colors moves and mix like beautiful dream coming to life. Sometime your surroundings, your life experiences bundle up in your mind. Art is the best way to express and share. Without any words still it heals and you are at peace with yourself after I create sometime just make the art what I feel inside it show in my work effect what you paint.
It happened with me I wanted to show how colors, minority, women are treated I did a series of painting. Learning never stops I am still learning, discovering and enjoying the creative process with myself, students, and artist. My art now reflects a combination of my knowledge of folk art, photography and graphic design. Based on my ethnic background - colors, stylized designs, and story telling is evident in my work. I have participated in many art shows and art competitions and won numerous awards over the years in both paintings and photographs.
I have shown my work in various galleries and participated in art shows throughout the Midwest, California, and India. Now I have collection of batik scarves that I sell at art shows. I am proud to be a Asian Indian artist.
Right now working on “Scared Symbols- coloring book “ through state grant PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS & ACTIVITIES Compas, ArtStart, Mtka Center for the Arts, & East Side Arts – Roster Artist Member of Minnetonka Camera Club, TCCC – Twin Cities Camera Council Minnesota Artists Association, NorthStar watercolor Society, Minnesota Mosaic guild Westside Art guild Shakun Maheshwari Shakuntala design Inc.