It would be lovely to hear your response to this question.
This work titled ‘Lily Pond’ is very close to the artist’s heart. It was conceived in Auroville, Pondicherry as part of an academic-program building. The school has a tailoring department that became the stimulus behind this work for artist Nidhi Khurana.
This work entailed working with untrained children. The work was bringing to fruition a mural, taking cue from lily ponds. Lily ponds form part of an essential motif in Pondicherry. Every place is strewn with lily ponds. Therefore it became emblematic in terms of assuming a visual subject reference for the students. All the elements that are found in a lily pond– mud, water, frogs, dragonflies, lotus, leaves and the like were incorporated as part of the final mural.
Using colour with its myriad facets including texture, artist Nidhi Khurana weaved in a tapestry of its own in the course of the two-day session with our students. They took upon themselves the artist’s own style and practice by tapping in on the tactility and augmented engagement with ‘katran’. Katran or waste/scrap cloth, collected in prior from the tailors, forged its way in terms of material exploration for our young artists. The artist’s perusal medium is essentially picking remnants of cloth and stitching them in a manner of mental mapping and inner quests, by way of making cloth murals.
The session carved its own path marked by a burst of colour in the course of unraveling the very process. The colourful shreds of ‘katran’; were purposefully used by the students as part of the process of sticking them together, bit by bit, on to the pasting material and then with the help of a tailor, stitching the shreds of cloth. The concerted attempt was to make a pattern with conscious/unconscious choice of colours and invoking an assemblage of sorts, by way of a stitched/plastered cloth mural.
The play of colours, inciting a range of moods, self-expression and discovery towards one’s inward explorations played through the session. It entailed working on one’s individual pieces through a process of self-discovery by the minute. The exercise required a lot of mental agility, for each one of the wisps of cloth needed meticulous ironing, pasting and stitching.
Artist Nidhi Khurana’s contoured mappings make her artistic quest all the more nuanced and riveting. Her colourful abstract art blazes up on canvases and walls which in turn decodes the state of ‘mapping’ in her mind.
As a child, Nidhi found long stretches of time and abundance space to explore her creative pursuits. With her roots in the city of Allahabad, she has studied at the Fine Arts department at the M.S University of Baroda, National Institute of Design at Ahmedabad and School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU, New Delhi.
She has dabbled in many forms to arrive at ‘cloth’ defining the artist in her as well as her artistic sensibilities. Her practice essentially is underscoring the deep involvement with form and content. A host of colours and pieces of cloth give her the creative niche that she calls her very own. She tries as much to draw from memory and mapping through personal connections and linkages with the places, areas, domains, roads taken into visual account and hence its representations.
The work Rites of Passage (2006) was composed of a group of 350 black butterflies that was enclaved and was suspended at a height of 7 feet and the onlookers could walk underneath it. It was in the shape of a missile.
The work exhibited a charged space just below the ceiling and above the ground. Kristine employed a firing technique to get the black tinge and the metallic tints thus accentuating the play of light and dark through her installation. The floating ambience of the piece using butterflies as a strong motif; which is in the midst of its own process metamorphosis and therefore undergoing a rite of passage. The imagery of the butterflies used, anticipated their own moment of transition through this work.
Under Kristine Michael’s mentorship, students were taken to the potter’s museum at Sanskriti Kendra, Anandgram to have their senses allured by the artistry and craftsmanship.
The premise behind the museum visit was to soak in the visual imagery that our ancient and contemporary history has been rife with, over centuries. The spanning over of material culture, housed at the crafts’ museum gave the students a lucid entry point into the history of the same. Students made drawings of fine anatomical details, jewelry patterns and intricate mural paneling that the museum was dispersed with.
After a flurry of activity at the museum, the preceding sessions were at the artist’s home studio where the students played out their conjuration through the medium of clay. Kristine took them through some of the techniques and tools that are immaculate in the world of clay. Equipped with those learnings, students made their individual foray using clay. They made portraits, coiled pots, individual tiles for a holistic mural and composite creatures inspired from the visit at the museum.
Employing varied artistry into creating individual skilled products gave the students a new window into the world of pottery. Our mentor took them through the nitty-gritties of firing the clay in the kiln. She gave them hands on display into the modus operandi and dexterity that go into its aesthetic value.
Donning both the hat of a practicing artist and that of a teacher’s, Kristine Michael has her hands full in her inherent creative knack. Hailing from a family where her mother was an active theatre person, she is both surrounded and imbibes the ‘theatrical’ element in her way of life.
She graduated from National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad with a specialization in clay work and ceramic art, centred round product design. This was followed by a string of apprenticeships in India and in the UK.
The other significant role that she strives to enact is that of an art teacher’s. She has been teaching for the last 8-10 years. The feeling of inspiring young minds channelizes the inner direction of life that she gets utmost satisfaction from.
As an artist too she is a teacher, which helps articulate her own practice. Learning is symbiotic and she picks up from her students in more ways than one. The fresh, unadulterated and innocent takes they share offer a whole new meaning to life and it’s other facets.
It is the potency of the medium and the material that defines Kristine Michael as an artist. Clay and her engagement with its very tactile tangibility is her connecting point in the overall finesse of creation. She works with textiles, spatial and set designs but it is clay that gets her senses tickling to the hilt!