Lately I've been taking too much time between finishing these posts. I have to confess stretching the process makes me lose the very words that I had so vividly buzzing in my head for the project. And in somewhat of an irony, what this project ended up being is an exploration of the opposite. To start with an idea, pick some connecting threads and create without stopping. It was a test and I would love to hear what you think of it!
I cannot explain my love for image making, it is one of those things I'd like to be doing for my next few lives. For various reasons though, I often find myself stuck when I am posed with a specific brief, sometimes overstimulated with too much inspiration and I give in to the pressure of my own expectations. And with that, I end up creating nothing in the end.
A couple of years ago, totally taken with the amazing bounty of produce, I played around with fresh vegetables and fruits to use their natural form in some of my work. My background in fashion long behind me, I'd continued to keep in touch with the discipline merely through my pins on Pinterest. While I developed a not-so-loving relationship with the culture and industry of fashion, I love the pure creative side- the fabrics, the drapes, the surface ornamentation, dyes (ah, the smell of inks!), the various printmaking techniques- all the tactile magic that is what makes the creative process so rich, alive and exciting! I never tire of trying to revisit and somehow incorporate these beautiful elements of creation into my current practice, but so far, I've met with little success. So this was yet another attempt. I thought of reinterpreting some of my favorite runway pieces with nature’s own gift of textures, patterns, and vivid colors. I wanted to set up some rules: I’d not obscure the vegetables too much, try not to shape them into what they’re not and try not to color-match. It would mostly be an interpretation of the silhouette, and whatever came out of it, was what it was going to be.
So here’s the first one I did. It was this Commes Des Garcon piece that I find utterly cool. In the process of trying to match form with a totally different medium, the colors got reversed and new patterns emerged.
That led me to another idea- interpreting this evolved form in watercolor, and in a matter of speaking creating a new polka pattern with these onion rings. The thought sort of lingered for a little bit and eventually faded away.
I happened upon these pictures some time back and decided to restart to see if it was an interesting project at all. I mean, I was cutting vegetables and making fashion models. It was a bit silly- but I thought, why not suspend reasoning from my "user-driven" instincts and just play along. Literally play. So my friend Aastha shared this piece by Rachel Roy (I think) and here’s what came out of it.
It’s fascinating just how much we tend to cling on to our ways of creating if we just let it be. I had to really resist the urge to start cutting shapes and when it got harder and harder I had to go beyond the produce I bought specifically for this exercise. I foraged in my kitchen for other things. I found salad greens and ended up using them for the hair. I had high flying dreams about making a perfectly natural drape for the skirt with a leaf of purple cabbage- oh was I naive! I nearly gave up when Karthik came along and gave it the quick shuffle it needed. Sometimes a pair of new eyes is all it takes!
AN INTERPRETATION OF AN INTERPRETATION
As I was working on it, I was wondering what this unplanned combination I landed up with, was. Didn’t feel too bad all together- apples, purple cabbages, salad greens, but curry leaves? I decided to give a shot at reinterpreting this combination, this time in food form. I have never dared to attempt creating whole new recipes out of nothing, but now I had a starting point: a constrained list of participating vegetables and I had to make it decently edible. So here’s where I landed. And a new resulting discovery: apples, pepper and curry leaf is an unusual but interesting combination. It worked.
And the dye that purple cabbage left behind- what a perfectly sweet surprise!
AN INTERPRETATION OF AN INTERPRETATION OF AN INTERPRETATION
The hair with the delicate leaves and the buds was my favorite part of the collage. Honestly, I didn’t care for the rest of it that much, I didn't think it is was interesting, but it was enough to have struck a new idea with the hair. It happened by accident, mostly a desperate measure caused by constraints. Taking it to the drawing board, here’s a pattern stringing along that piece of idea. I don’t think this is anything like what I imagined in my head- my pencil skills fell short, but I'm happy to have tried!
Phew. I don’t know how this looks to you, but to me this exercise was a series of very happy accidents. I loved jumping from one medium to the other, one interest to the other, in a fun progressional manner.
Learning by Heart by Corita Kent and Jan Steward is one of my favorite books. I read it cover to cover a long time ago, and while I tasked myself to do every assignment in the book, I never really managed the time. I believe somewhere between those pages, this exercise formed at the back of my mind inspired by the many random browsings. I'm thankful for the creative fuel the book continues to provide, consciously and unconsciously!