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Through the eyes of a sculptor

Sue Rees, a sculptor from the U.S., allows her imagination to infuse life into inanimate things. She was recently in Chennai to research the structure of temple cars.

"What matters in life is not what you remember but how you remember it... " — Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

IT IS sometimes very difficult to fathom the meaning or pay attention to every form of design that exists in this world. Invariably, one does not have the time to think whether a design means something.

"I am a carver. I see shape and life in every object. The presence of technology in our lives, the juxtaposition of technology and its effects interest me," says Sue Rees, visiting Fulbright scholar. As a Professor of Performing Arts at Benington College, Vermont, U.S, Rees has done extensive research in sculpture and theatre design.

Sculpture and theatre design are not new to people in our country. "From time immemorial there has always been a strong connection between sculpture and history. And that answers why I am here in Chennai. Most designs exist in an arbitrary form until activated or imagined, combining composition with the art of improvisation," says the scholar who has won many awards. Rees, who has held exhibitions in many countries, is now in India, researching the structure and construction of temple cars, vahanas and palanquins, especially in the Chidambaram and Kancheepuram temples.

With the help of the American Consulate and USEFI, an exhibition of her work was recently held at the Lalit Kala Akademi.

One is sure to be baffled as one looks at the designs she has created from basic things such as windows, doors and ladders. Can one ever imagine that every object can potentially mean something else? Well, this is what Rees' work is all about — to animate the inanimate. "The use of mechanised objects refers to human figures in an oblique manner without the object being overtly figurative," says Rees. Each and every object is loaded with symbolic possibilities. It is these possibilities that have inspired her to look at even an ordinary object as a sculpture or design. She employs objects such as hats, gloves, shirt collars, shoelaces, spectacles and ladders that are very much adjuncts to human lives. These objects are devoid of movement and Rees animates them in the most unusual manner.

* * *

Sublime expressions

"INDIA HAS helped me look at the world and things around me differently," said Kathryn Myers, noted figurative painter, delivering a slide lecture on "Contemporary American Figurative Painting."

A Fulbright scholar from the U.S., Myers has held exhibitions in the U.S., South Asia and Europe. Figurative painting, which is a reflection of the artist's society and self, finds its sublime manifestation in Myers' works. Like the creations of Edward Hopper, (his paintings were a source of inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock in the making of his suspense thriller "Psycho") Eric Fischl and Sidney Goodman, loneliness and isolation of city life, miscommunication between people, dysfunctional relationships and their resultant tensions, ritualised behaviours and obvious body language are some of the underlying themes of Myers' paintings. She also has a couple of paintings on Indian temple situations to her credit. Myers is currently based in Chennai on a teaching fellowship at the Government College of Arts and Crafts. -- SANGEETH KURIAN


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