Friday, February 18, 2011

Here at Sanscriti again -making art and feeling completely at home

Am indeed settled and making good work here at Sanskriti artist residency in Delhi. Absolutely love being here. It's peaceful and so very wonderful to have the company of other artists so close by. All are from America except for an Irishman. The woman from Jamaica is an architect living in Atlanta. It's great to travel into Delhi with this delightful crew. They've all been here a while and know their way about. It  feels like family. We went to an art opening last evening for American Artist Lesleigh Goldberg. She sold her Soho studio at the high, bought a flat in Paris that she's renting out to cover her living costs in India. She makes digital prints from photographs, a composite of classical - mostly Italian renaissance images reconfigured into her proclivities. Met many Indian artists who want to come to my show. Hope they will (and with your people Gillian, that will be grand!).
    The bed here is hard, but beautiful, and the shower is pathetic. I'm using the bucket. It's so much easier. There is hot water.
    The grounds are glorious. Beautiful trees, flowering bushes and hanging plants. Large traditional Indian ceramics of figures, horses and cows are all about. Two artisans are working here now and making more of them. Pankaj says they are the best in India. Pankaj is very lively and is being a wonderful help with my settling in. I now have a table in my stone-walled back yard. The light in the studio is minimal so it's great to bring work outside to see in the full light, and to spray with fixative (bought that at the art supply store the other day).
    Munilal came to work at Sanascriti when it first opened. He remembers Barbara Rothenberg (she and I were here on our Fulbrights 1992-3) at that time. We were both invited to come and she was able to. My time was more fixed. Two of her artworks are on the walls, one in the entry was and another in the dining room. Helps me feel at home to see her artworks every day.
    Feeling comfortably peaceful and centered. Great to have my art materials all laid out. My foresight was good, having brought the art supplies I need to keep going. Am now making "Face" paintings , 24x18 inches each. One is smaller. Have finished four (more or less - let's see if tomorrow brings ideas for changes) and am planning for seven more. Then, the Portrait Boxes. I wonder if anyone pose for me? Otherwise I'll put my photos on the computer, stare at them, and pick three friends to work from. 
     I've brought some large handmade paper with me and have ideas of working with the earth powder colors and large pastels I bought in Munich. Happily, I have Liquin. When we went to the art supply store in Delhi day before yesterday, I bought Sansodar, a very low odor solvent, the best . So amazing to find it here.
    Made two masks in Dhaka and 11 monoprints with Chine colle. Gave one to the American Center. They are buying my film as did the art college in Chittagong. 
    Have a new mask tale, Hena's Memorial about the fourteen year old girl who was beaten to death on on a trumped up charge ( a Fatwa - illegal in Dhaka but no matter, people still obey them) after she'd been raped and beaten by her assailant, a cousin.Woke in the night twice so upset about the gruesome tale. Had to perform it. Did so at the two film screenings of Masks as a Portan to the World." It was very well received, especially by the women in my audiences.     
     As a foreigner behind the mask, I've learned that it's okay to bring up such issues as I'm not bound by the cultural morays and the mask neutralizes my identity. I began with a true story about the woman in CT in the 1980's who'd been beaten by her husband while a policeman stood by. She sued the police Department in that town and since then, the police act in such cases.
    Many invitations to return - to Kolkata, Santiniketan, Dhaka and Chittagong. Maybe will as I'm now on the Fulbright roster as a "Specialist". Could mean a two week to two month return. Maybe in two years? In three years? As they say here, "Inshallah" (God willing). Being here this time around feels like I've always been here and not had the hiatus of 16  years.
    There a humongous amount of building going on in Delhi. It's uneven with something glorious next to something shoddy. It's great that the subway goes throughout Delhi They are still working on the pathway to the nearest station so here and there piles of dirt and uneven paving to pass along. 
     So glad I first came in the 1970's as it's a different country now. Everyone has a cell phone, that is everyone! Don't know how I did without it before myself. Happily, Pinku's mom loaned me one of hers and in Dhaka, Hasna loaned me a SIM card for Bangladesh. Back in Delhi, I just put the India SIM back into the cell and Ive been good to go. 
    The residency at Sanscriti is giving some time, not much, for reflection. I expect that after my show at the American Center in Delhi opens, I'll have more time and hope to write out my deeper thoughts on being here past and present. 
     It's been a wonderful whirlwind thus far with arriving in Delhi from Munich/London; on to Kolkata three days later; after just four days there seeing friends from my Fulbright year; off for five wonderful days in Santiniketan where I showed my film and made a clay mask; back to Kolkata for a day (stayed with Shefali - so lovely, my dear friend from the 1976-77 trip), and then the14 days in Dhaka. WOW!
    Been here now at Sanskriti three days and will be staying on until March 15. I'm amazed at how quickly I've been acclimating. Know that I've been doing yoga every day and the Five Tibetan Rites (exercises) that I do believe has been very helpful in keeping me together. 
     I'm feeling completely at home. Life in the States feels as though in another universe. I guess I am truly a traveler with my minicscule flashlight attached to my fanny pack for the dark unlit nights; the tea tree oil tucked in a plastic bag for scrapes, arnica oil for bruises, drops of grapefruit seed extract and pro-biotics to keep my stomach more or less in line (got sick just once on my third day in Delhi last month).
    Right now listening to Shakuhachi music on the earphones attached to my laptop (otherwise the sound doesn't work). Don't have enough music on the IPhone. Somehow it didn't get on. Have Leonard Cohen in London, Steve Gorn playing India flute, yoga music and the like. Need the music. If my IPhone could get on line (can't here as there's no wireless) I could listen to NPR and the like! Did that in Dhaka. Amazing.  
    Another hour until dinner. The food is vegetarian. I'm lusting for more protein. Last night we ate at the Gunpowder restaurant in Haus Khaz and had chicken, fish, lots of veggies and fabulous flaky parathas. Ah, a fresh lime soda for me. Yum.
    Sending lots of love from the land of India,

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