My Journey as a Fiber Artist from India – Speaker Series Follow Up

The following post is contributed by Boisali Biswas, featured artist for the 2022 January Speaker Series.

Fiber Artist Boisali Biswas

I am Boisali Biswas, residing at West Bloomfield, MI. I am a mixed Media Fiber Artist, originally from India. Having come from a country with a rich history of art and culture, my work is deeply rooted in Indian heritage. 

In January I was invited to talk to the members of Huron River Art Collective. I took the opportunity to talk about my entire journey as a Fiber Artist for almost 30 years, primarily after we moved to the US. By now I have spent more years of my life in this adopted country than my birth country, India.

As I age, I realize how impossible it is to move away from my roots. I was very fortunate that my parents chose a very unique university to send me for my BFA degree. If it was not for the Viswa Bharati (The communion of the world with India) University, situated in the rural settings of Santiniketan (The Abode of Peace), I would not be the person I am today.

Santiniketan (The Abode of Peace)

That five-year experience at Santiniketan came to mean a particular way of life and left an indelible impact on me. It was not merely an art education. Nature and the arts were all entangled in our everyday lives. We were encouraged to grow as complete human beings in a community of students, teachers, workers, and occasional visitors from all over the world. It followed a complete secular philosophy, and we celebrated the seasons, and other occasions in very unique ways.  You can read about Tagore’s philosophy HERE.

My soul partly dwells in India and adapting to my life here, my art has become a cauldron of multicultural assemblages. Subconsciously mundane images from my childhood or daily life there show up in my art seamlessly when I incorporate traditional techniques and motifs. I love to weave and also play with fabrics and manipulate them in various ways. As a result of that over the years, I have tried to combine both in my work.

Artwork by Fiber Artist Boisali Biswas

Another of my passionate interest is in upcycling discarded materials. I collect materials which don’t recycle and are harmful to the earth and try to use them in my work. For many years now I have been weaving with the plastic fruit netting which bags our onions, lemons, etc. Not only do they add an interesting texture and color, they are used in some way. Same way if I find any interesting styrofoam forms, I save them to use in my work in some way or the other.

My journey continues as I explore my medium of textiles. I contemplate on how cultures, countries are bound together by the warp and weft of civilization, how we are wrapped in cloth ever since our inception!! 

Artwork by Fiber Artist Boisali Biswas

Please visit Boisali’s website for more work.

Boisali Biswas will be in several invitational and juried shows through the entire Spring thru Summer. Information will be available on her website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram @boisalibiswas.

Essays on Invisibility – Speaker Series Follow Up

The following post is contributed by our 2021 September Speaker, Paloma Núñez-Regueiro. A link to the edited replay video can be found HERE or view at the bottom of this page.

A few nights ago, I had the honor of being the guest speaker at the Huron River Art Collective Speaker Series. I was delighted to share my prints and the process of making them with people from different places via Zoom. Many times we complain about everything that we lost because of the pandemic, because of COVID 19 but the truth is that besides all our terrible, and painful  losses we also learned to regroup again, as humans do. Our virtual existence is one that makes us present all around the world at once. It lets us reach far and hold hands with friends from the present and past and share, as in this case: our thoughts, art processes, desires and hopes…

My name is Paloma Núñez-Regueiro, I am a Mexican printmaker based in Ann Arbor, MI. I am also a resident artist at Ypsi Alloy Studios. 

The body of work I talked about that night is called “Essays on Invisibility”. Essays on Invisibility is a collection of linoleum prints and monoprints that express my interest in making the invisible visible. The subjects I explore are immigration, social justice, the experience of assimilation, and the experiences of being invisible in a cis-gender and mostly white society. 

Sister III
Linoleum Print 30″ x 11″ 2019

The protagonist of my series is the Guarumo leaf. The Guarumo is a tree that exists in the south of Mexico and the Caribbean and has great medicinal powers. The leaves fall to the ground and they dry up making these beautiful shapes that make them different from one another. I found these leaves on a trip to Tulum, Mexico; I became fascinated with them. I took many pictures of them and brought them back home. I started drawing them as honestly as possible  and found that they contain in their structures mountains and valleys, rivers, noses, vertebrae, carcasses and many more things. The little holes that the crawler made in them while eating, are like little constellations or chemical formulas. I came to believe that these leaves contain the universe in them. 

After drawing and carving around 10 of these leaves, I realized that if I created an environment or a context around them they will help me create this series that talks about the invisible: the immigrants, the poor, the LGBTQ, the black community or anyone that does not fit the established standard of normality in their own settings. 

Legal or illegal, able or not able to make a comfortable living, minority groups are somehow invisible, a lesser human. Because we are different, many times people don’t know how to approach us and that gives rise  to micro aggressions, physical aggression and violent crimes. These experiences leave us thinking of our value to society and are a constant reminder of how undervalued  we are. 

I like the idea of using an overlooked element of the environment that contains such beauty and healing powers, that is fragile and yet strong as the minorities I am talking about: the invisible.  When we don’t take the time to look, these leaves become an invisible element of the environment and their beauty becomes unseen. 

Breathe in. Breathe Out
Linoleum print 24″ x 20″ each 2020

In “Essays on Invisibility”, I am trying to interpret the effort of minority groups to remain, to take on opportunities offered by their surroundings, to become visible and therefore included in society. It’s my goal to acknowledge the feelings of those who feel invisible, to uncover our pain through my prints, and offer it to the spectator in a way so that he/she/they can open their hearts to the possibilities which can range from listening to their ideas, to working together and  raising  each other into better positions that will allow for political, economic, and emotional stability in our communities.  

I want to cordially invite you to see these prints in person . All these prints will be available for view on January 8th, 2022 at Hatch Art Gallery in Hamtramck, MI. There will be a reception from 6-9 pm on that day, and then the gallery will be open Thursday through Friday from 6-9 and Saturdays from 12-6pm. 

Thank you to the Huron River Art Collective for giving me the opportunity to share my work with you, and for the labor spreading the love for the arts, for bringings artists and art lovers together, and for creating this sense of community beyond the physical world.