Gauri Gill is a photographer whose work is currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in their Vision Exchange exhibit.
In 2013 Gill visited the community of Ganjad in the north-western part of India. She was doing art with the school children there. An artist in Ganjad named Rajesh Vangad told Gauri Gill about traditional Warli painting, an art form that may have started more than 5000 years ago. The paintings were traditionally done only with white pigment made by grinding rice into a powder and mixing it with water. The women of the tribe created the artwork on the walls of their adobe houses. The paintings showed the social life and the daily routines of the Warli tribe. Warli art uses mainly circles, triangles, and squares.
After learning about Warli art from Rajesh Vangad, Gauri Gill decided to photograph him at different places in the village and invite him to draw Warli art on her photos. Here Rajesh stands in front of the community school. His Warli art covers the photo.
A closer look at the Warli drawings Rajesh Vangad did reveal that he depicted children in the classroom and on the grounds of the school participating in all kinds of activities.
Children writing the alphabet
Children in the science lab
Children on computers
Children doing math
Children on swings
Children having lunch
The school-age visitors I take on tours of the Winnipeg Art Gallery love looking for all these different scenes in the artwork. I have included only a few of the dozens of small scenes in the piece entitled School from Gill and Vangad’s The Flight series.
I always invite the children to use the Warli technique to make drawings of their own depicting themselves doing something they enjoy. Their artwork is simply delightful.
This girl drew herself painting a picture
Here another WAG visitor showed himself playing basketball
This girl loves golf
This one loves ballet
And here is a soccer player
Warli art is for everyone and the children love its simplicity and the ease with which they can create portraits with white chalk on black construction paper.
There are several other pieces by Rajesh Vangad and Gauri Gill on display in the Vision Exchange Exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Why not come and see them and then try making some Warli art of your own?
Don’t Forget About Us
Sports Equipment and Salt
This half circle of salt that features marble sports equipment is part of an installation by artist Sarindar Dhaliwal in the Vision Exchange exhibit currently on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. The cricket bat, field hockey stick, and badminton racket represent sports that were brought to India in their modern form by British colonizers although a game very similar to field hockey was played in the 17th century in the Punjab state of India called khido khundi. Khido referred to the woolen ball and khundi to the stick.
A team from India wins the Under 19 World Cricket Championships in 2018
India has become a formidable force in the world of cricket. India’s elite took up the sport in order to build relationships with the British and its popularity spread to the general population.
India’s national women’s cricket team
This led the way for the creation of some superstar cricketers and India’s international success in the sport.
Why is the sports equipment lying on a bed of salt? In 1882 India was under British rule and the British passed a Salt Act which banned Indians from collecting or selling salt. Salt had to be bought from the British and they added a heavy tax to each purchase.
Gandhi was joined by thousands on his Salt March.
In 1930 to protest the salt tax Indian leader Gandhi led a salt march. Thousands of people walked down to the sea to collect salt from the salt flats there.
Gandhi bends down to pick up a lump of salt
Gandhi was arrested after he bent down to pick up a small lump of salt. Gandhi’s actions led to peaceful protest demonstrations all over India. The British police force responded and in the end, some 60,000 protesters were arrested. Although India would not gain independence from the British until 1947 the salt march and the civil disobedience it inspired gave Gandhi a seat at the table in the discussions about India’s future.
Salt and sports equipment. Two symbols of India’s past as a colony of the British but also symbols of a future when India would control its own natural resources and make its own name in the sports world.
A Different Kind of Snow Angel
India Assaults the Senses
The Heros Walk
Sun-Poe by Reena Saina Kallat. The sunbird is the national bird of Palestine and the hoopoe is the national bird of Israel
The drawings look like something you would see in zoology or botany textbooks. Hyphenated Lives is a collection of art pieces by Reena Saina Kallat that depict hybrid specimens of birds, animals, trees, and plants. They were created by merging two species that are the national emblems of countries that have at some point been politically partitioned. The purpose of national symbols is to unite people but these drawings merge symbols from countries that have been separated. The artist illustrates that not only people but also elements of the natural world are interconnected and also suggests that sometimes nature can defy the barriers set up by politicians. This is the Sees-Yal tree. On the left, you see the Sessile Oak the national symbol of the Republic of Ireland. On the right, you see the Royal Oak an important symbol in England since legend has it that Charles II hid in an oak tree to escape Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers. In 1921 Ireland was partitioned, with southern Ireland becoming independent and eventually a republic and Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom. Although the relationship between northern and southern Ireland is relatively peaceful right now from 1968-1998 there were thirty years of terrible conflict between the two that resulted in thousands of deaths. Some of the Hyphenated Lives pieces, like this one, feature electric cables. They are a symbol of the way ideas and information can be transmitted bringing people together. Often however Reena Saina Kallat has them morph into barbed wire barriers. Behold the Ti-Khor. On the left, you see a tiger, the national animal of India and on the right the markhor, an endangered species of a wild goat that is the national animal of Pakistan. In 1947 a provision of the Indian Independence Act which separated India from Great Britain also separated Pakistan from India. This partition created along religious lines- Pakistan largely Muslim and India largely Hindu- created a refugee crisis and stirred up large scale violence that resulted in the loss of millions of lives. The relationship between Pakistan and India continues to be a troubled one. The Edel-Lip is a hybrid of the Edelweiss the national flower of Austria and the tulip the national flower of Hungary. Austria and Hungary both belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1867 to 1918 but after World War I became distinct and separate European countries. In 1945 the advance of communism in Hungary and the erection of the Iron Curtain which Russia used to separate its European allies from the West created a barrier between Austria and Hungary and Austria took in thousands of refugees from Hungary. The Iron Curtain came down in 1989 and in 2007 an agreement between Austria and Hungary allowed citizens to move back and forth freely between the two countries.
This art piece is called The Jordan River. The Jewish state of Israel was established in 1948 in an area previously called Palestine that was home to Arab Muslims who became displaced refugees when Israel was established. Adjacent to Israel to the west of the Jordan River is an area called The West Bank that holds many sites of cultural, historical and religious significance for Jews, Muslims and Christians and there has been a long history of violent conflict as both Israelis and Palestinians have tried to claim this territory. The Jordan River is the primary water source of the area and so it has been at the heart of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. The Pea Yel bird is a combination of the peacock which is the national bird of India and the doyel or magpie robin which is the national bird of Bangladesh. The Partition of Bengal in 1947 divided the province between India and Pakistan. Predominantly Hindu West Bengal became a state of India and predominantly Muslim East Bengal which would later become Bangladesh became a province of Pakistan.
Hyphenated Lives is currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of the Vision Exchange exhibit that features artists who have their roots in India. I find Hyphenated Lives very thought- provoking as I try to envision other combinations of living things that could illustrate the establishment of a relationship between countries or groups of people that have barriers real or imagined between them.
The Book of Creation