I spotted this spirited Bengali lady at the Shrine Empire Gallery stall in India Art Fair 2014 where her installation ‘Forgetfulness’ was being admired by several; and I simply loved the idea and its execution. This literature and art student portrays her creativity across art disciplines, like combining digital and traditional media.
With grants and residencies on her resume, her work has been seen at many known art spaces in US, Europe and Asia, including the International Center of Photography, Jersey City Museum, Galleria di Piazza San Marco, the British Film Institute, Lalit Kala Akademi, and Seoul Art Space.
For now Priyanka happily resides and also teaches contemporary art and media in New York.
What are your fondest memories of childhood?
My childhood is full of fond memories…..these include, traveling with my parents and brother – camping in Europe, snorkeling in Mauritius, boogie boarding in Malaysia. We were so fortunate to be taken to a new place almost every summer; watching my grandfather listen to music and my grandmother make ice cream; taking care of hummingbirds in the backyard, and cats in the house; traveling around the country for tennis tournaments, with my mother; making friends with kids who spoke different languages; watching trapeze artists at the circus; skipping art class to play basketball; reading.
How did you decide on switching to Art after doing English literature?
I never really decided to switch. I was raised in a family of visual artists, thus this medium of expression has always been an intrinsic part of my constitution. Literature is where I went to make sense of the world… I have always enjoyed reading and continue to do so, religiously… the decision/ desire to study English Literature was pretty well considered, and something that I wanted to pursue from quite early on… Both my parents love reading, so this probably contributed substantially to my interest as well. I continue to write regularly, in fact it is how I think and give form to my artwork. I have always been interested in the relationship between text and image, not ‘Illustration’ but ‘Illumination’, as William Blake would say.
What did your first piece of art depict?
I’m not sure how to answer this question… my first official ‘piece of art’ was probably a black and white photograph – either the one of an old lady in a backless choli, braiding hair at a Dastakar Mela in Dilli Haat, or the one of a row boat, partially submerged in water, in a forest of bare trees.
Why did you shift to New York?
I moved to New York in 2001, to pursue a Masters in Art at New York University, with a concentration in Photography, and later, Video Art.
Is there a difference in the Indian art scenario compared to other countries where you have showcased? Is there a market for your kind of art in India?
The art scenario in a place is often not literally limited to its market, which I find hopeful. In a city like New York, where there are countless venues for art, one is fortunate enough to see surprising, thought provoking work pretty regularly, either in the museums that support contemporary art or in non traditional, public spaces that further the conceptual intent of the exhibited work. I try not to think much about the market for art, this would only limit my work. I did however, notice a real interest in art when I was in Delhi earlier this year, for the art fair… it was evident in the throngs of people, from all walks of life, that moved through the space that weekend, and displayed a genuine curiosity towards the work on display. This leads me to hope for more venues and opportunities for exhibiting work in the city, more support for the visual arts in general, both institutional and academic, not merely defined by what the ‘market’ dictates.
What are your major influences currently?
I continue to be inspired by Literature, and heavily influenced by my family. Much of my work is derived from my conflicted sense of home and belonging.
How do you keep yourself motivated to churn out creative stuff all the time?
I don’t think I churn out creative stuff all the time! Making ‘art’ is like throwing up! Something bubbles and churns inside you, eating at you until you have to let it out… I’m not sure I have much control over the process. In fact, I am often terrified that I may never have an idea again…