On March 15th 2018, I conducted an interactive Rangoli performance at the Vermont State House for Arts Advocacy Day. The Vermont Arts Council hosted a day-long Rangoli workshop, to which Vermont legislators were invited to take a few moments of respite and indulge in some Rangoli making. As the day progressed, the Rangoli grew, creating a beautiful and calming atmosphere in the midst of a demanding and hectic day at the Statehouse.
In early January I had the pleasure of completing a Rangoli residency at the River Rock School in Montpelier, VT. River Rock is a small school with fewer than 50 students and mixed-grade activity classes, which gave us the perfect opportunity to experiment with some new ideas.
Students learned about geometry, shape and pattern, and designed their own Rangolis on paper which they used to create a transparent-film window-quilt and transform into mindful doodles. They also learned about Kamalkari–the Indian art of block-printing– which inspired the creation of hand-printed peace flags. Finally we collaborated as a group to create temporary Rangoli patterns using rice and colored chalk, which made for a beautiful and memorable finale.
The final piece:
On October 20th 2016, an interactive Rangoli performance took place at the Champlain College Art Gallery in Burlington, VT. Participants were students from the Global Studies Senior Seminar and the performance took place during a solo exhibition of my work. Peripheral Vision features work created as a result of a 15-week residency in the Champlain College MakerLab in the spring of 2016. While exploring the line between permanence and the ephemeral, I have been experimenting with cutting-edge 3D-printer technology and created a body of work that attempts to connect three different elements of my practice: rangoli, painting and sculpture.
Over the Summer I had the opportunity to teach a Rangoli workshop to students at the Community Art Center, an incredible non-profit community arts organization in Cambridge, MA. We had an inspired session, and spent the day creating designs, dyeing rice and understanding scale. Later that month, the youth teams used their skills to make community Rangoli designs as part of Change4Peace; 8 lunchtime art-making sessions at Kendall Square and the Green Rose Heritage Park.
“Teen Media Program/ Community Art Center “
In January 2015, I had the opportunity to work with the students of Georgia Elementary School as artist-in-residence. The 2nd through to 4th graders made some incredible work and we began by studying ephemeral art around the world. Over the course of 4 days, the students prepared their materials, created their own designs and participated in a group Rangoli. We also experienced being mindful and explored some mindful doodling. Tiles created during the residency will be exhibited at the Vermont Statehouse in March for Youth Art Month.
For the month of April 2014, I had the opportunity to teach two arts-integrated residencies at the IAA in Burlington, VT. Working with both 1st-grade classes (with teachers Jen Nesson and Alice Patalano,) we integrated social studies and mathematics with visual arts. Focusing on the art of India, we studied Rangoli, even visiting the Tibetan Monks at the Fleming Museum who were in residence for a week creating an intricate sand Mandala. The students were captivated. Having over 6 hours of contact time with each student was a gift–we managed to cover some significant ground–making permanent Rangoli tiles from rice and some temporary group designs.
I also had the opportunity to work with Stephanie Decarreau’s 2nd grade class. The arts-integrated focus was on mathematics and visual art and again, Rangoli proved to be a wonderful vehicle for leaning about shapes, angles, symmetry and pattern.
Choosing to make a ‘stained-glass’ wall-hanging, the students worked together to create some beautiful designs and experimented with group Rangolis. All work will be exhibited at the BCA Center–the opening will take place on Thursday May 22nd, 4-6pm.
This week I’ve had a flashback to a project I was involved with in the Summer of 2006. In conjunction with Shisha (the international agency for South Asian visual arts & crafts), I conducted a series of Rangoli workshops with the Year 6 students of St. Edwards Roman Catholic Primary School, in Rusholme, Manchester UK. They used grains and pulses to complete their designs, which initiated a conversation about food; variety, availability and origins. We thought it might be fun to study food in more detail, so after a series of still-life drawing and watercolor painting sessions, we scanned and reproduced the images for use on our larger Rangoli designs. The result was a series of beautiful, mosaic-style Rangoli panels using images of food, both exotic and familiar, to create the stunning patterns.
The project was successful on many levels: engaging students in art practice, promoting an understanding of cultural diversity and identity, and fostering community pride.