Vis a Vis: Adria Arch and Anne Krinsky
In 2014, Adria Arch and Anne Krinsky spent a fruitful, sensory-rich month as International Artists-in-Residence at the Sanskriti Foundation in Delhi. The two friends lived at the Foundation, engaged with other artists and craftspeople, experienced the visual stimuli of neighboring cities, and learned about traditional folk arts of India. They visited markets and museums, met with artisans at paper factories and textile workshops, and sought out creative connections between their new environs and their art-making practices to date. Arch and Krinsky approached this residency with open minds and with the hope that it would serve as a catalyst to create new work, but neither could imagine the unique and exciting inroads they would go on to make into their already insightful personal aesthetics.
For Arch, serendipitous exposure to a Foundation exhibition of Hindu shadow-puppets paved the way for a conceptual breakthrough. Lured by the lavishly painted, multi-jointed, two-dimensional puppets of gods and goddesses on view, Arch loved the way that their flat silhouettes doubled as spectacular studies in shape, form, and movement. Their outlines reminded Arch of her own recent experiments with poured-paint pieces, whose inky contours are choreographed partly by chance and then made to dance in different directions at the discretion of the artist. Arch saw in the puppets parallels to the dynamic curves of her own, unconscious mark making and suddenly something clicked. She eagerly set to work in her Sanskriti studio spilling paint on sheets of mylar – a material that in many ways mimicked the translucency of the puppet parchment. Arch waited for the spills to dry, cut out the abstract, fluid forms, glued them to printmaking paper, and then painted additional elements in fulfillment of fanciful, imagined narratives. The resulting compositions – full of deliciously incidental and unexpected visual associations – connect this work to her larger oeuvre and yet ground it in the sights, sounds, colors, and inspiration she soaked in all around Sanskriti.
For Krinsky, an introduction to Phulkari embroidered textiles from the Punjab served as a jumping off point for a novel paint-on-paper exploration of texture and geometry. Her Sanskriti-inspired series dovetails beautifully with a longtime interest in mining archives and primary source materials – in this case traditional fabrics from the Delhi Craft Museum – to push her practice. Her textile research, funded by an Artists International Development Fund Grant, also included block printing workshops in Jaipur that fostered experimentation with diverse papers and folding techniques. Krinsky has a talent for using delicate grids of abstract lines with well-chosen hues to indicate the architecture and emotions of a place. Her subtle contours conjure associations to particular memories, patterns, cultures, and moments in time, and her frequently saturated colors always vibrate between soft and strong. In her Phulkari series, Krinsky’s robust reds, rusts, mustards and marigolds – taken directly from the textiles themselves – appear stained, washed, weathered and with tactile, stucco-like qualities thanks to the use of acrylic molding pastes and pumice gels on Khadi papers and on panels. These colors push and pull beneath angled, off-kilter, zigzag patterns – also loosely derived from those found on Phulkari embroideries – and create dynamic, motion-filled compositions that are simultaneously ordered and chaotic, hard-lined and expressionistic.
Together, these new bodies of work – both of which rely on seductive vocabularies of abstraction – are testaments to the transformative benefits of a radical change in scenery and to the artists’ rewarding experiences at Sanskriti. Courtesy of this creative and cultural immersion, Arch and Krinsky found new ways into their singular practices vis-à-vis distinct forms of Indian folk art. It seems only fitting, then, that their journeys come full circle via exhibitions in Boston and London, the individual points of origin from which their Sanskriti adventures began and will continue to reverberate in the years to come.
Mary M. Tinti, Ph.D.
Curator, Fitchburg Art Museum
catalog essay by Mary M. Tinti, Ph.D.
Curator, Fitchburg Art Museum