My paintings also explore female energy and power, as I am inspired by tantric art (of ancient India). The work is informed as well by Indian miniature paintings, Byzantine icons and Jewish religious art from my childhood. Thus far I have completed forty paintings on paper in gouache and gold leaf for this project and I will create approximately twenty more. These paintings will be displayed on the wall along with an installation on the floor in the form of a mandala.
I envision the full series of paintings, once completed, to remain together as a unit, as part of a traveling exhibition. Rather than having only the usual (passive) display format, I will be interested in engaging the viewers in a dialogue, using the exhibition in a gallery as the focal point and backdrop for events during which the topics of the paintings would be discussed.
During the past few years I have been involved in teaching multiculturalism in schools and communities through the Illinois Arts Council Arts-in-Education program. While working on these cross-cultural projects with students in schools and communities, I have come to many realizations about myself as a painter. I am still trying to reconcile the conflicts I experienced in my own upbringing as a Jew who attended Catholic and Zoroastrian schools while growing up in (predominantly Hindu and Muslim) India! On top of this, I have lived in or made extended visits to Europe, the Middle East and, of course, the U. S. For a long time I did not know what to do with my own hybrid background and experiences. The residency projects suggested to me how I might delve into the essence of my own individual history. The point is that this has become a cyclical process, with my own research and paintings stimulating my work in my teaching, which in turn returns energy and inspiration back to my own paintings.
As I have said, this work emphasizes women's issues and raises questions about identity. The forms, though, may appear unconventional and exotic to some. In this multicultural society, I would like the viewers transcend this apparent exoticness and absorb the core message — tolerance of diversity.
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