Mirage

This tapestry inspired work was created as an experiment with depicting imagery solely with the use of cut-up and collaged fabrics. Mirage depicts landscapes and architecture from old analog photographs taken in India. The red warm tones of the earth are transformed to turquoise blue in the photonegatives, represented through the use of a cut-up embroidered dress. The abstracted shapes hover above the surface allowing for movement with the slightest breeze.

Places & Spaces

For this series, , I wanted to explore the relationship between memory and dreaming. I was working with photonegatives that are in their own way a distortion of reality. They are luminous, dreamlike, and ghostly, while also being directly derived from reality. I selected images from my family photo album that were structural and could lend themselves to being abstracted and simplified. I cut out the background of the images and replaced them with sheer material that came from found materials around my house, materials such as scraps of fabric from old sarees, that I like to use as a reference my cultural heritage. The fabrics I choose to use add to the sentiment of the work and allow me to create more complex scenes. The sheer material allows the viewer to see behind it creating a visual contrast between the painting and the fabric. The images become a stripped down versions of the photos, but I feel that they still capture the essence of the subjects. I replaced the figures in the images with figures made from string. I created the figures in the scenes by layering individual strands of string, of different thickness and color, on top of each other. They are a suggestion of a figure capable of shape shifting into anything desired. Like the way people in dreams are undefined to change into another being. These paintings play around with the interaction of 2D and 3D space. 

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures is about idealized memory and sentimentality. I paint figures in an abstracted, dreamlike setting pulled from family photographs. Mimicking how our perception of reality can become trapped behind layers of wants and desires. I then take it a step further and fuse the painting with the idea of a traditional tapestry. Sacrificing the “perfect” image behind a veil of sheer fabric and string to demonstrate memories as separate from reality, incapable of being relived or experienced twice. 

Interwoven Histories

These tapestry styled paintings are the recounting of different stories and moments from my family’s history, being expressed simultaneously. I incorporate fabric taken from traditional sari dresses into parts of the imagery, which not only references my cultural heritage, but also acts as an inhibiter, preventing the viewer from fully seeing the detail of the painting underneath. This relates back to the struggle we have recalling our own memories and wanting to remember something more clearly but being physically unable to do so. My family’s collective memories are a diluted combination of thoughts, feelings, and events and are not an accurate account of reality, which I find to be very fascinating. I take this already distorted account of reality and further reimagine it in my own mind, creating my own fabricated memory or story represented through painting. 

Veiling Memoryscapes

Collective memory is the memory of a group of people, passed down from one generation to the next. These paintings explore the idea of how collective memory informs my relationship to my cultural heritage, which is represented through the merging of the different landscapes and environments taken from family photographs. By combining different perspectives I create a new narrative separate from reality. This new narrative is fragmented and ever changing. I veil parts of my paintings with traditional fabrics in order to imbue them with even more sentimental value, and to further break the image apart so that it can be filled with new possibilities. 

Fabricated

TThis series was created as an experimental approach to creating drawings or paintings using unconventional methods. I referenced old family photographs, and reused scrap material found around the house to create compositions. I used cut-up and collaged fabrics in place of painted washes of colour to create a background for these scenes. Strings are molded and sewn together to create sketches of figures and shapes, as well as sewn along the edges to frame and complete the scenes. These pieces are the reconstruction of memories in their simplest form, where figures become hazy and undefined, and space is illusionary and ever-changing. 

Toronto, ON, Canada | melissapatelart@gmail.com |