“Technology and tradition collide and then merge,” writes Pratima Naithani in the artist’s statement on her website. Colliding and merging seem to form the essence of not only this young artist’s work, but also her life.
She sits astride three cultures. Her mother is El Salvadoran, her father Indian, and she grew up in the American suburb of Princeton, New Jersey.
She bridges multiple media. Born with a visual impairment, she turned her budding creative energies to music, soon becoming an accomplished classical and jazz pianist. Then, in boarding school (her eye condition was diagnosed and treated at thirteen), she discovered photography. Her passion for the camera led her to New York’s School of Visual Arts; the artist who emerged now works in various media, from drawing and painting to printmaking, photography, and mixed-media installations.
Not surprisingly her art exists at numerous points of intersection: between East and West, past and present, traditional and contemporary, high culture and low. “I use vestiges from my culturally rich past,” she writes, “as a platform for evoking a contemporary dialogue that re-interprets and re-invents Indian creative heritage.”
Her unique perspective has resonated with audiences throughout the world. Immediately after graduation in 2003, her prints were selected for the Visionaire World 41 annual collectors’ book alongside works by Karl Lagerfeld and Baz Luhrmann. She has since shown in seven major group shows and had solo exhibitions in New York, Miami, New Delhi, Mumbai, Abu Dhabi, and San Salvador.
Her latest work, inspired by the Indian obsession for sweets, transformed a refurbished school bus into a mixed-media art installation for the 2010 SCOPE New York Art Show held in March. The mobile art gallery, evoking modernized Indian truck art on the outside and hung with mixed-media works depicting sweet shops on the inside (digital silkscreens on canvas, acrylic paintings with mirrorwork), shuttled visitors to the art show’s venues while playing audio loops combining Indian street sounds with samples of contemporary music.
Now that’s one bus we wouldn’t mind taking.
More on Pratima Naithani http://www.pratimanaithani.com/
Story by Republic of Brown contributor Laura Silverman
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