SHARMISTHA RAY

The Night Is Dark and Full of Rainbows , 2019
50 hours of automatic writing on vellum with colored pens 
19 x 25 inches 
SR - 01
The Swan No. 1 (after Hilma af Klint) . 2019
50 hours of automatic writing on vellum with colored pens 
19 x 25 inches 
SR - 02
Samadhi (or Divine Union) , 2020
Automatic writing, sequins, collage elements with washi tape and Canson vellum paper, colored pens on archival Bristol vellum paper 
12 x 9 inches 
SR- 03
 
Biography

Sharmistha Ray is a Brooklyn-based artist, writer, and educator. They were born in Kolkata, raised in Kuwait, and between 2006-2017, they lived between New York and Mumbai, with a yearlong stint in Berlin (2007-2008). Their work emerges out of the experiences of The Gulf War, (im)migration to  the U.S., and queer alienation to engage themes of (be)longing and survival through nterdisciplinary modes of production and research. Their practice is studio and non-studio based and includes traditional and new media like painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video installations, built environments, and electronic media, and extends to essaying, pedagogy, and public programming. Ray’s work in education, particularly in the intersection of visual art and critical theory, has become a crucial framework for conceptualizing and making creative work. Currently, they teach core theory and writing classes in the graduate fine arts programs at Parsons School of Design and School of Arts, Carnegie Mellon. Their art criticism has appeared in Hyperallergic, Artcritical, and Art India, among others, and a longform academic essay is forthcoming in Where is Art: Space, Time, and Location in Contemporary Art by Routledge in 2021. Public speaking engagements include a TED Talk in Whistler, Canada in 2013 and panel discussion at SXSW in Austin, Texas in 2019. Solo exhibitions include “we are all islands” (2016-2017), a two city exhibition in Mumbai and Kochi, India; “Reflections & Transformations” (2013), Aicon, New York; “hidden geographies” (2012), GalerieMirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai; “Crossroads” (2004), Pratt Institute, New York; and “Queer Series” (1998), Williams College, Massachusetts. Awards include a TED Fellowship (2009), Montblanc Young Artist Worldwide Patronage Award (2012), Joan Mitchell MFA Grant (2004), and nomination for the CivitellaRanieri Fellowship for Visual Art (2014). Ray received their B.A. from Williams College (cum laude) and dual degree M.S. in Art Theory, Criticism, and History and M.F.A. in Painting (highest honors) from Pratt Institute. 

About the Work 

In these conceptual works on paper, I adapt modes of automatic writing and schematic models to  build intuitive geometries. In a process I call “performative South Asian queer-feminist emotional- intellectual labor,” writing-out-of-my-psyche is an iterative act of self-recovery from spaces of  erasure. My ‘spirit maps’ are influenced by queer visualities, Hindu and Buddhist yantras and mandalas, South Asian tapestries, meta experiences of landscapes, and the concept of a musical raga (“color,” “dye,” “hue”) in Indian Classical Music, which is a melodic framework for improvisation with symbolic associations to season, time, and mood/emotion. The titles, like the works themselves, perform in order to assert references that can easily be erased in a reading of the work, especially in instances of cultural mistranslation (and, in extreme cases, censorship). They offer clues, but are not intended to be descriptive.