This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in Under the Radar, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from Uma Iyli.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
My work serves to build bridges between my Indian roots and contemporary culture. Each series allows me the opportunity to embrace my worlds. They act as avenues for others to merge culture and time in their own way. Time-based meditative processes inform my art. Examining ancient cultures and focusing on notions of women’s work, my scalable artwork investigates linking these practices with our contemporary context. Each line that crosses another echoes traditions of weaving and storytelling from my heritage while simultaneously representing the networks of technology that we depend on daily.
Q-tip Connection-Blue Green Gold, 2018, Photography: Edition Of 5. Giclée Printed On Hahnemühle Fine Art Paper
What is an artist’s responsibility?
By sharing my own stories and visions in my artwork, I try to instigate an exchange of ideas. I see pushing the boundaries of what is perceived and what results in my studio practice as a spirit of inquisitiveness that I put forth for viewers. I work hard to get my work in front of a broad audience, both those focused on the art market and those who are new to the idea of looking at art through national and local fairs, alternative spaces, and galleries. Therefore, I have responsibilities in the studio and outside the studio marketing, installing, and sharing my art to initiate those exchanges.
Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?
Garland Installation-Rainbow, 50 inches x 30 feet. Contemporary Relics, at the Mill SF, 2018
Sometimes the least expected venues provide artists with the greatest opportunities. Last summer, a wonderful local supporter of the San Francisco arts scene, The Mill, invited me to expand my Garland Installations to its largest size to date—30 feet—in my solo exhibition Contemporary Relics-Abstractions by Uma Rani Iyli. While it was not a traditional venue like a gallery, it gave me great pride to take this work to the next level and the chance to document my vision with the generous real estate.
This Q-tip Garland Installation Series stems from childhood memories of making jasmine flower garlands with my mother. In this installation, I echo this practice by hand-tying my Q-tip relics into garlands. For festivals or in daily life, groups of women would gather to tie garlands together celebrating the roots of our own rituals as woman with strength through stories.
Rice Lore, Installation, 2003
My early great work: With my 2003 graduation from California College of Art in Sculpture, I was able to execute my installation Rice Lore. I used 1,500 feet of steel cable to weave a steel basket into which I placed over 450 “rice-like” cast forms. In India, rice is associated with domestic rituals, religious ceremonies, festivals, and social gatherings, which have marked various stages of my life. The practice of the rice mandala in the form of floor tracing is a domestic ritual practiced by Hindu women to create protective spaces. In a broader context, this work references domestic rituals, domestic labor, and women’s work. The process of making each grain in the effort to fill this basket was part of a self-immersion in the name of connecting myself today with this ancient practice of my past.
Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:
In 2017, Incline Gallery invited me to expand my Q-Tip Garland Series in a curated exhibition entitled Summer of Love. The work I created was Upside-Down Rainbow. The resulting curves of the installation echoed our powerful Golden Gate Bridge. I envisioned how amazing it would be to install a large-scale version of these Garlands on our famous suspension Bridge to share the message of love and progression that I hope San Francisco symbolizes. Daily, international visitors come in awe to our bridge. My dream project would be to hang my garlands in the negative spaces paralleling the bridge’s cables. Metaphorically, like the cables, they would bear the weight of the bridge and connect the two land masses. Garlands are celebratory in nature and in many cultures/cross-culturally are used to welcome and honor people. Garlands draped on the Golden Gate Bridge would be a wonderful welcome gesture as people cross the bridge or enter the city via water route.
Upside-down Rainbow. Summer of Love, Incline Gallery, San Francisco, 2017
Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t?
—The ArtSlant Team
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(Image at top: Garland Installation-Rainbow, 2018, Mixed media)