Purchase College professor and artist Sharon Horvath finds the visual power and intimacy of traditional Indian painting inspiring. With a desire to study the technique, she will spend four months of her 2013–14 sabbatical in India as a Fulbright US Scholar.
“I wish to further my work as an artist through a study of Ragamala, a tradition of miniature painting intended as a visual manifestation of music and poetry,” she says.
The word ragamala translates as “garland of melodies” and the genre dates back to the 16th century. The paintings attempt to translate the emotion of a particular raga, or classical Indian melody, into intensely colored pictorial compositions.
“Their erotic subject matter was understood as metaphor for the yearning that characterized the relationship between human and divine in the realm of Hindu spirituality,” she adds.
“I will spend four months studying the use of natural pigments and dyes in the tradition of Ragamala paintings and in the practice of contemporary artists and scholars with similar interests,” says Horvath. She plans to use social media and blogging to create a cross-cultural network of artists.
Furthermore, by participating in a traditional painting school, she hopes to understand a different paradigm of teacher/student relationship. Horvath is an associate professor of painting and drawing who’s taught at Purchase College for seven years and served as the head of the painting and drawing board of study for the last three.
Horvath has a number of professional distinctions including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for Painting; the Rome Prize Fellowship in Painting from the American Academy of Rome; the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters; and the Hassam, Speicher, Betts and Symons Purchase Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters.
While in India, she’ll be affiliated with the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in the northwestern state of Gujarat, and the Kriti Gallery Residency in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, a state in the north.
Referring to her Fulbright award, she says, “I’m exhilarated. I know it will change me.” Upon her return, she intends to create and show a new body of work. “My goal is to change, to transform my work in unforeseen ways, to be inspired.”
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