A Cut above the Rest

Each cut that Tanya Hastings-Gill makes to create art out of paper is like meditation for her.

Written by Parul | Published: May 3, 2012 3:23 am

Each cut that Tanya Hastings-Gill makes to create art out of paper is like meditation for her. According to her,each paper silhouette holds memories that make us and our life. “Paper gives me so much food for thought and creativity; and is not limited in any way,” says Hastings-Gill,as she takes you around “Ever After”,her exhibition of large-scale hand-cut paper silhouettes of children and small paintings at Museum and Art Gallery,Sector 10.

Here in India as a Fulbright-Nehru senior scholar,Hastings-Gill is a “cut paper” artist,who pushes this art form to new heights by utilising reflective colour,shadows and open installations to engage the space with her hand-cut paper works. “I am researching the intersection of craft and contemporary art in India. I work within the revived craft of cut-paper in my own creations,” explains Hastings-Gill,who received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was while working on her paintings that she experimented with cutting works,to give them new forms and discovered the unlimited scope of paper. “It’s been ten years now,and there is so much to explore,’’ she says.

The title of the exhibition,“Ever After”,refers to the time after a fixed event. In relation to the cut paper and painted works that comprise children,the title speaks about the impressions made on children in their formative years. Whether the child embraces or rejects their childhood later in life,it is always in reaction to their experience.

At the exhibition,the large-scale hand-cut paper silhouettes of children called Underskin are each made with two layers of paper,painted in a carefully selected colour on the back-side,which then reflects colour against the wall. The first layer of paper shows the pattern of the children’s clothing that has been cut out. This refers to the life patterns we follow as kids. The second layer is an image of something either happening,or that has happened to the child,and has left an impression helping in the formation of an identity. For instance,Rohit is a silhouette of a boy,and the inner layer depicts him running through a flock of feeding pigeons. Raul’s inner image depicts him fighting street dogs in Mexico,while Christy Anne is a little girl on a farm in the US,who plays all alone by the willow tree,the inner layer of this work shows how the long,droopy branches comfort her.

Alongside these large works are small paintings of children. These started out as studies for the larger works,but quickly became a body of work in themselves. Titled Unseen these works stem from Hastings-Gill’s extensive travels and observing different cultural attitudes towards children.

Panorama,on the other hand,is cut out of hologram paper and is a continuous piece that is intended for the viewer to walk along,as if strolling down a street. The images are all harvested from the artist’s’s photographs taken in India between 2005 and 2011. The images are of people and buildings,which are then reflected and amplified between the light reflections from the hologram paper and the shadows. Panorama encompasses Hatings-Gill’s own physical journey to and from Chandigarh,her Indian home-base,as well as a general feeling of memory and movement.

On May 5,a workshop in cut paper will be held for college students followed by a workshop open for public on May 6.

“Ever After” is on display till May 6 at the Museum and Art Gallery,Sector 10,Chandigarh.

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