Art

Christina Banerjee, an American artist in Delhi, on how we can care for animals and birds who have no say in pollution-ridden environment

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Christina Banerjee made India her home in 2013

Christina Banerjee has added five new artworks, done in gouache or opaque watercolour on paper, to her existing 35, as a part of the series called Adaptation. Each work shows animals in an urban setting, trying to adapt to an environment where space is shrinking and there seems no place for them. Here, they seem to be at the mercy of human beings for their survival. “I am a huge animal lover. Unfortunately, they are not getting a say on their environment,” says Christina, who feels the art is especially relevant at this time of high pollution.

She developed the series by taking pictures and making mental notes. She then sketches from what has been captured on her mobile and then will either transfer that to canvas or mould it into a sculpture made with discarded materials. The American artist, who lives in Delhi’s Chittaranjan Park, and made India her home in 2013, will often rummage through construction sites around home or source discarded materials like automobile parts, rusted locks and old wires.

Surrounded by art right from the time she was brought up in Alabama, Christina started building art pieces using the recycling technique, when she was a young child. Her mother was an artist and father a carpenter. She remembers constructing a pelican with her father, the face made from ceramic and the body from automobile parts.

The idea of Adaptation began when she was once accosted by monkeys near Savitri Cinema. “They have adapted yet crave for the generosity of humans to feed them. If you don’t, they will steal from the sabzimandi.” The monkeys are present in her work, as is an elephant, adorned with faded floral paint on the trunk and ears, titled Raj Hathi II. “One day, I came across an elephant walking near Defence Colony. He was obviously someone’s livelihood.”

She hopes the series that was mounted for a day at India International Centre will do simple things like help people open their homes to the smallest of creatures, sparrows, for instance, “one of the biggest victims of our environmental mess.”

In her work, she has made use of recycled paper, painted keys, old wires and even a Diwali platter as background.

“Over the past six years, I have witnessed the effects of climate change. I don’t need an environmentalist to tell me that the winters are getting warmer or that rainfall has decreased. The pollution level, worsening each year, is affecting not just our children but also adults and creatures who cannot express themselves,” she says.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 6:15:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/christina-banerjee-an-american-artist-in-delhi-on-how-we-can-care-for-animals-and-birds-who-have-no-say-in-pollution-ridden-environment/article30104291.ece

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