"Look mother," she said, pointing up at the gray sky. "That cloud is mushroom shaped."
one way to Duke's Meadow... there surely must be others ....
Because we have for millenia made moral, aesthetic, religious demands on the world, looked upon it with blind desire, passion or fear, and abandoned ourselves to the bad habits of illogical thinking, this world has gradually become so marvelously variegated, frightful, meaningful, soulful, it has acquired color - but we have been the colorists: it is the human intellect that has made appearances appear and transported its erroneous basic conceptions into things.
I produce Visual Flash Fiction by combining a mixture of reality, memory, and fantasy – a kind of psychical reality – which is made up of images and words. I use words and images to approach and reflect, with some lightness, on the introspective musings and everyday internal journeys that we all experience. It is these flickers of meaning, the random questions, the unexpected thoughts that flash through our minds as epiphanies and anxieties that interest me – these tiny flashes of fiction that we constantly mine to create and transform our personal and collective histories.
I place words and images within the same two-dimensional space, while keeping them separate as distinct mediums. The words are independent of the visual composition, written on the surface in a basic form, disrupting the image rather than being a part of it, allowing the viewer to see how the reading and interpreting of each affects the reading of the other. My aim is to emphasize how the combination of image and text in painting can work to obscure genre boundaries, and produce several levels of meaning. I am interested in the ability of the word to direct the reading of the image, and vice versa, whether or not the words have any relationship to the image at all. I do not attempt to blur the spaces between the visual and the verbal, to substitute word for image, nor to project the word as image. I leave each medium to work alone, and paradoxically, for both to work together. This is my attempt to bring about an intimate collaboration between the linguistic and the visual so as to generate levels of meaning inaccessible to each alone. I hope through this, to keep the activities of seeing and reading thoroughly mixed up
I am aware that the act of writing is a visualization of the workings of speech - a linguistic system, and also a kind of graphic mark-making. It is this that makes word and image peculiarly symbiotic. It is clear, however, that text and image are also two completely different systems – they cannot be read together as there is always a difference in the way both are perceived. The viewer looks at the text and looks at the image, but never all at once. This is not to say that word and image work against each other. Instead, they complement each other by calling attention to each other’s limitations so that the viewer is never entirely locked into either the image or the text. When word and image are combined on the same surface they create many implications within the same work. These implications can only be interpreted fully when one engages with the reflexive action of both media, and considers how each influences the way the other is read. It is this direct, and in many ways, simple relationship, that holds my attention.
Coming to my work as much as a practicing writer as a visual artist, I want the work to be accessible. The incorporation of words can also be the means of making the painting “legible” in the most obvious sense, making the viewer an active reader and interpreter. That is my intention.
At that point I wasn't sure whether I had arrived or still had a way to go. With all those zigs and zags you can lose sight of the road. Well, nobody said it would be easy once you'd stepped outside the straight and narrow.
ink jet and acrylic on canvas
Flash Fiction brings together the various strands of my personal history, which include a BA in Literature, an MFA in Art Criticism from the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, India, and another MFA in Visual and Cultural Studies from the University of Rochester in New York, USA. In the time between these degrees, and sometimes while working on them, I have written and published a novel, “Waiting for Winter” and several books for children, published by the National Book Trust of India.
cover illustration by Laxma Goud
I have also researched and documented Contemporary Art from Baroda, in collaboration with Gulam M. Sheikh, which resulted in a book of the same title, published by Tulika Press, New Delhi.
My relationship with art has included teaching Art History and Cultural Studies at the University of Hyderabad, and later at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York.
I have found that my extensive work, a large component of which was art therapy, with developmentally disabled adults in New York State, and with abused and neglected children in Washington D.C., has widened my understanding of methods of communication, and given me a greater degree of comfort with genre mixing. I bring this to my Flash Fiction.
exercise 1: fill in the blanks .... (in your own words)
He had planned well - worked hard ... And he had arrived at that perfect place in his life
"So what's that lurking in left field?"
acrylic on canvas
"...it's not young nor brit not insider nor outsider not eastern nor western not black nor white ...," she said, pointing into the gloom, "but look mother, it's an artist nevertheless..."
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