Text panel from the exhibition of Meta-Tourist at gf contemporary, summer 2018:
Making of the Meta-Tourist
My introduction to India was through fabric. It was a Madras plaid dress with matching headband. Then the Beatles introduced me to sitars and meditation. I saw people marching on the evening news and learned about the Civil Rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. and the influence of Mahatma Gandhi’s practice of non-violent protest. India became my ‘exotic’ other. Yoga, meditation, embroidered clothing, weaving and spinning were to follow.
In November 2016, I was accepted to a printmaking residency in Vadodara, Gujarat, India. In my application I proposed:
‘’ …to develop a print-based installation that is mythic in breadth and contemporary in content and use of materials. The conceptual foundation for the project will be the vital weaving and textile arts of Gujarat and Gandhi’s revitalization of domestic textile production as a vehicle for Indian independence and social restoration. “
The plan was to travel through Rajasthan for three weeks with my daughter and have one month at the residency in Gujarat, which borders Rajasthan on the south.
We searched out embroiderers, toured a paper factory and block print shops. After visiting palaces, forts, temples and mosques, the stories began to sound the same as one power structure gave way to another. The ruins of yesterday’s empire are today’s tourist attraction. The walled city fails to protect over time. In every city on our tour, vendors told me that the camel is about love, the horse is about power, and the elephant brings luck, the peacock happiness. It’s what we all want.
The work here is my fabrication of India with my Gandhi glasses on, still believing that the inner and outer worlds are connected and worthy of my attention.
Most of the print work was made in India on the cotton rag paper I saw being made in Rajasthan. The embroidered prints on Indian khadi cloth I purchased from the government shop in Vadodara were printed at Fourth Dimension studio in Santa Fe with the help of Michael McCabe. Thanks to all who helped make the departure and return of the Meta Tourist possible.