18 July 2014

Shows Up! #baltimorelove #texasrocks

So much has been going on these days . . . So-much-so that I haven't even had a chance to post anything on this beloved blog since early May! (Oh no!!) 

I am in the States all summer long for graduate school. Baltimore, Maryland to be specific. And currently I have pieces in 3 different shows. No better time than now to jump back into the blogosphere!

The first show I am included in is a photography show--my first--curated by my friend and former upstairs neighbor, Nate Larson. Not only is this my first photography show, but it's also being hosted in my home state of Texas. I'm really excited about this opportunity and the potential for more photography shows in the future. The show is called Cell Phone Photography III and is featured online with the Texas Photographic Society. I'm pretty sure no one takes more photos than I do with their phone, so I thought this particular show would be a perfect fit! You can check out the show here and buy a catalog of the images here.

The second show I am honored to be a part of is GUTSY: Taking the Fear Factor out of Feminism. This show is being held at Gallery CA, a beautiful young space in Baltimore. The Gallery CA website displays the following verbiage: "Feminism, much like art, is about perception. GUTSY: Taking the Fear Factor out of Feminism is an exhibition which seeks to highlight the work of female artists and artists dealing with feminist issues, themes, and aesthetics." My proposal for this project involved asking young people between the ages of 5 and 18 to define feminism in their own words. The responses I received were outstanding. I sewed their words onto a 4' x 8' banner. It's quite powerful when you read through the entire piece. What struck me is how frank their responses were and that they were more interested in "gender equality" instead of the concept of "feminism". Superb.

The third show I have work in is at the Maryland Institute College of Art. This is a show involving the second and third year students in my graduate program. It's a "works in progress" style show, testing ideas and themes we are thinking about, materials we are working with. I am showing a video piece that I made. My very first video ever made! It's a looped piece created in Adobe After Effects with the help of my friend and professor, Bruce Feldman. I'm also showing two photographs. All three pieces involve me as the subject--which I have never done. I've always been the maker and not the subject. New directions, folks! My only complaint? Videos are super hard to photograph!! Oh well. Let's see what happens . . .

06 May 2014

Spring Break India: Temple Visits And a Familiar Rooftop in Old Delhi = Lovefest!

I have been trying to sit down and write this post for what seems like forever . . . For some bizarre reason, I have been completely swamped out of my yingyang since I got back from India. 

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised: it is the end of the school year. In fact, I can't quite believe that there are only 5 weeks left. What??!! Doesn't it seem like I just moved to Singapore? Right. And now two years have come and gone, here in this land of humidity. 

Everything moves so quickly these days.

My last day in Delhi was sort of a hodgepodge of places I've been and new places I wanted to go. I just wanted to hang out and enjoy what would be my last day in India for a while. Relax a bit and take things slow.

Gajendar picked me up at noon and we started off at an art complex that I had become familiar with in December. I love this space. It's in this really interesting area of Delhi, in an amazingly diverse neighborhood. It's called Khoj, and I want to apply to do something there. Mainly I'd like to reconfigure the burnt out building across the street from the art space.

I'm looking into it . . . I'll keep you posted.

After seeing some great art at Khoj, we stopped off in Defense Colony for some more amazing food. See those donut looking things below? My new fave. Vada, vada, vada. All day long, vada. Usually found in the appetizer section on the menu, they are a savory fritter-type snack. So, so good.

Then we stopped off in Old Delhi. I described Old Delhi here the best when I first visited the place. This time I was able to finally take a great shot of the wiring in the neighborhood (above). Oh the tangled web we weave . . .

I actually think I was able to capture a lot more of the essence of Old Delhi in these photographs compared to the first time I was there. I think it's because I was in such shock looking around during my first trip that I couldn't quite take it all in. This time I knew what to expect, so I was able to focus more. And it was incredible.

We went to the roof in the spice market again. It was just as colorful and vibrant as I remembered.

Drying out papadums and roses . . . Such a view! And you can tell by these images that the weather was being gorgeous!

Buildings like TetrisTuk tuk jams.

Then we went to the Red Fort. The Red Fort was the ceremonial and political center of the government, as well as the residence of the Mughal emperors of India for nearly 200 years (until 1857). I had never been to the Red Fort before. It was giant and expansive, the wall went on forever.  

Driving about town before stopping at some temples . . . 

The first temple we stopped at was a Hindu temple. There were lots of fun things to look at, plus they were setting up for a huge wedding. So what with walking into someone's mouth (below) to looking at people draping things in orange fabric, I was pretty much in heaven.

There also seemed to be a large number of carnival-type "weigh yourself/guess my weight" games sitting around. People weren't using them, but they were all lit up like they were supposed to be used. I quite fancied them . . . 

The second temple we went to was a Sikh temple. All heads--male and female--should be covered upon entering the space. My hair was in a bun on the top of my head, so I felt I resembled one of Snow White's dwarfs

The interior of the space was almost solid gold. And I was in awe of the kitchen that was serving free meals to anyone and everyone. The eating space is pictured below.

The next morning, on my way to the airport, I stopped off at this monument in the neighborhood where I was staying. I didn't want to leave India. 

When I arrived back in Singapore, I was at dinner with a friend (who's from India) and we were discussing why I liked India so much. The only way I could think to link it up logically is that the vibrancy of India reminds me of the vibrancy of Mexico. Mexico is near my home state of Texas. I've visited Mexico many times and absolutely love it (colors and music!!), and I miss Texas very much. So maybe there is a correlation? Maybe?

I don't know. Sounds pretty farfetched to me . . . All I know is that I plan to keep going back to India as much as possible, living there for year to work with Ladli. Perhaps someday I'll be able to make sense of it all, and maybe even make some great artwork about all of these experiences. We shall see.

I'll see you again soon . . . India love.

29 April 2014

Spring Break India: The Wedding . . . #jeskaranhitched

I'm going to attempt to write one blog post about the entire 3 days of fabulous wedding festivities for Karan and Jes that I had the pleasure of attending two weeks ago in Delhi, India. 

I realize this may seem a bit crazy, as it's already taken me two days to whittle down the images and videos into the lot I'm sharing here. But maybe you will be as worn out by the end of this post as I was at the end of a three day wedding . . . Sans the drinks and dancing of course. Ha!

It's been slightly strange not blogging on the spot while I was in India. The internet was erratic where I was staying, which made it difficult. So I've been trying to post the whole Spring Break India series since returning to Singapore. I'm doing my best, but it's definitely hard with the end of the school year fast approaching and everything needing to be done right now. So I thank you kindly for your patience . . . I'll stop whining now and get on with it.

Day 1: The Play

The day started around 4pm, when I told Gajendar to pick me up. However, he didn't pick me up. He was sick. This was the day that we both realized we had gotten sick the day before on our fun outing. I had been awake all night, and apparently so had he. 

So a driver named Kadir picked me up. (He was nice and smile-y, but he wasn't Gajendar.) We went and gathered the items I had tailored to go with my sarees. Then we stopped by the Prime Minister's place and took some pictures. It was neat to walk around India Gate. There were a ton of people out, and with the sun going down, the images I captured were beautiful.

The first night of fun began with a play performed at the Defence Colony Club. Have you ever gotten a play as a wedding gift? How amazing is that? 

Kadir and I picked up Vanessa, Mia, and Kendra who were staying in Defence Colony. This was the first time I had seen them since coming to India, so I was excited to be around friends.

When we got to the club (which was literally around the block: we could have walked), we found Shikha Boom Boom who looked amazing in a beautiful canary yellow saree emblazoned with gold and pearl. She was moving around the grounds so quickly, chatting with everyone that this is the best image I got of her all night. But I love it . . . It's an action shot of Shikha completely in her element.

Drinks were served prior to the start of the play, dinner was post-play. The sets and costumes were incredible. And it was completely outside where the weather was dry and perfect. Just look at that set below, how it's lit . . . This is what it looked like as everyone was taking their seats!

The play was called Mehernama. From the Playbill: "Mehernama is the story of the legendary Empress Nur Jehan and the fabulous Emperor Jehangir. Covering three generations, from Akbar to Shah Jehan, this is a story of war and peace, of rebellion and reconciliation, of power and politics. Above all, it is an epic tale of love; undying, infinite love, a romance that transcends generations, surpasses diversity, to become one of the worlds most inspiring love stories. Nur Jehan remains the only Empress of India, whose name appears on the coinage and currency of Hindustan. For 18 years, she ruled this country without fear or favor, and became a model of powerful medieval Womanhood."

Shikha's husband (the father of the groom) was called on stage at the end of the play. He is an actor himself and has performed with this theatre troupe quite a bit.

We left around 11pm, to rest up for the next big day of fun.

Day 2: An Evening of Sangeet, Cocktails, and Dinner

Any event that starts with a Mehndi ceremony, I'm there. Gajendar (yay!) picked me up at 10:30am. We stopped by and picked up the ladies in Defence Colony before heading to the Taj Palace Hotel. From 11 - 1pm, all of the ladies on the groom's side took turns getting their arms and hands done. Even the littlest ladies.

This little lady was so cute. She was able to stay still and let her hands dry better than any of the adults. Take that!

And this is Stamford American International School's Elementary School Director, Tammi Shreve (my boss). She has been friends with Shikha for years. Her hands were absolutely gorgeous!

I couldn't do much with my hands, but I was able to snap this shot of the awesome peacock that was drawn on my right hand/arm. I requested a peacock. I'm now obsessed.

After the henna dried, we split for a bit. The ladies went shopping and I went back to pick up some more things for my sarees, including new nose decor. I wish I could've gotten a picture of the guy cutting the original sterling ring out of my nose and the other guys trying to put in my new diamond stud. It was me and 5 guys: 4 old jewelers and my driver. At one point, my driver was holding my face while the other guys were all trying to twist in the new stud. Long story short . . . We only got in half the stud. The backing is off and currently sitting near the soap on my sink.

Gajendar and I also stopped off to eat at a fabulous little bakery. It was really buzzing. Lots of amazing sweet treats and some really great food (see above).

After our little afternoon jaunt, I met up with Vanessa. We had our hair, nails, and toes done. We also got our sarees wrapped. Um we also happened to be running a bit late to pick up the other ladies. An hour late to be exact. Upon realizing we couldn't catch a quick tuk tuk back to the hotel, we jumped into some random guy's Lexus SUV. I realize this probably wasn't the smartest idea in the book, but we were in a hurry. And he offered his driver up to us after staring at us and saying: "You're not getting in a tuk tuk dressed like that". He was a completely nice guy who had gone to graduate school in Chicago. He didn't have an Indian accent, but sounded more like a New Yorker. We agreed that Delhi reminded us both of the pre-Giuliani NYC. Yay for nice randoms . . .

Once we got back to the Taj Palace Hotel (where we got the henna done), the night completely swept us away . . .

We found Shikha milling about in a beautiful floral saree. I took pictures of the ladies above and then we took a selfie together, later that evening.

After the bride and groom arrived, the dancing began. The first dance I kept calling the bride and groom huddle, because the family members all sort of embraced them and danced them into a huddle. It was really cool.

Then the show began. And boy was it a show!

Friends and family members who traveled from far away cities all put together dances to honor the bride and groom. It was the greatest community event I had ever witnessed. All ages participated and performed for the couple. I couldn't stop smiling, it was so wonderful.

We all talked about being disappointed that we didn't come up with a Stamford dance. We just didn't know the rules . . . Next time!! I promise!

The final performance I kept calling the pass the crown dance. But I'm not sure what they were passing was actually a crown or not, but maybe it was (see below). It looked to be all of the aunts, uncles, and cousins . . . The bride's family. The music--sangeet means music--to this dance was my favorite!

The best Indian food on the planet was served around 9pm. It was so very good. And while we were eating, I kept trying--and failing miserably--to get shots of the bride. She was wearing the most gorgeous colors. I managed to get a blurred out shot of she and Shikha Boom Boom hugging. You can see the colors Jes was wearing and why I might seriously fancy her outfit . . . Really I just wanted to make an installation out of it.

Hey look! It's Paola! I found this image when I got back to Singapore. I remember vaguely taking this picture with her when we were at dinner . . . Paola also teaches at Stamford. She is a member of the EAL team. Exciting to spend time with her in Delhi, if only at the events and for a short time!

The evening ended with even more dancing . . . Kendra and me with our Delhi bellies decided to leave a bit earlier than everyone else. But as we were walking out the door, the bride and groom were pretty much crowd surfing. I'd say it was a damn good party! I went to bed excited about what the last day would bring. What could be better than an Indian dance party?

Day 3: The Marriage Blessing

We picked up the lovely ladies at 5:15pm on the dot . . . I knew that the Barat was a huge deal and because I had heard that the groom was coming in on horseback, I wanted us to be on time. I couldn't miss this.

So I ask again: what could be better than an Indian dance party?

An Indian wedding parade!! That's what!! Just look at that sea of swirly, twirly turbans!

It literally took us 2 hours to walk about 100 ft. There was so much dancing and drumming! Fireworks were being shot up in the air every two seconds. Rose petals were being shot out of hand cannons. There was so much going on that I didn't know if I should be participating or taking pictures or trying to video things.

People were wearing the most gorgeous outfits. And I loved how all of the men looked in their fancy turbans. There was a turban wrapping ceremony an hour before the processional. So all of the men and boys looked so fancy!

We had so much fun marching down the road with cars gleefully honking in celebration as they passed. It reminded me so much of being in New Orleans and studying second line parades.

Look at that shot above! How awesome is that? Tourists were even stopping to take pictures.

And right as we turned into the driveway of the hotel where the marriage blessing was taking place, they lit up the "Karan and Jeshreen" sign in sparklers. I just love that image: the yellow of the sparklers, the band signage, the tippy-tops of people's heads, the sky a bright pink and blue . . . All framed by trees. Gorgeous!

When we got inside, Jes was waiting for Karan. They went through a bit of a family ceremony before finally placing themselves on the ground around a fire pit with the priest. They were under a giant canopy of marigolds, which looked amazing. Their family joined them with the priest for the blessing, along with about three camera crews.

The guests sat around and were encouraged to talk amongst themselves as the marriage blessing took place. It was about an hour and a half long. Sweets and drinks were passed during this time.

Towards the end of the marriage blessing, flower petals were given out.

And as the bride and groom walked past, the guests tossed the flower petals in their direction. Look at Jes's beautiful head covering . . . Again with the action shots: I couldn't capture these two still! (Thankfully you can see still images of the couple on Ms. Kelly Lemon's blog.)

After the marriage blessing, everyone went indoors for drinks, speeches, and eats. The couple got to sit on a stage blanketed in white while guests had their pictures taken with them. We went up for a Stamford/Singapore group shot. I'm sure we'll get to see the image soon, once Shikha gets all of the pictures back from the photographers.

And of course there was more dancing . . .

But honestly, we were all so tired that we ended up leaving around midnight. We took one last photo together, to capture the moment. Everyone looked so great that night except I looked like a Southeast Asian political figure. (Red and gold do not suit me . . . )

Next up? My last few days in India for a while, complete with several temple visits and a rooftop in Old Delhi!