Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bird view of "Growing Peace"
Walking through "Growing Peace"

Indira Freitas Johnson is an artist, cultural worker, and activist based out of the Evanston, Illinois. Though she has resided in the States for well over two decades, Indira has continuingly kept close ties with her homeland, India. She uses a wide array of mediums for her creations, her materials often being derived from multiple sources ranging from discarded man-made items to the recycled and more organic. Her subjects often ponder the origins of South Asian values and ethics, spiritual development, and issues of social justice and humanitarianism. “The influences of my mother, a social activist and my father, an artist and a follower of Gandhi have been predominant in my life and art,” she writes, “I continue to deal with the same issues that have preoccupied me for the last two decades - the growth towards a spiritual existence as an individual and as part of the human continuum.”

Her most recent work is with the Fields Project of Oregon, Illinois, where she created a five-acre field sculpture titled Growing Peace. It is in this work that Indira contemplates the power of human perspective and its relationship to the process of finding peace within civilization. Her design, "Growing Peace" was meant to imprint the earth, inviting observers to become participants in our shared goal for peace. Indira employed the foot, a symbol that continues to dominate her work as the primary motif in "Growing Peace". She believes it's power lies in its universality and we stand and walk without feet, which gives us stability and grounds us to the earth. This is Indira's statement of her concept:

"For me peace is a process, as alive as any plant, growing rationally and emotionally in our minds and hearts. Can we grow peace?  Can we cultivate it in our children, nurture it in our youth?
The Fields Project places agriculture in a cultural context and creates a space for people to see things with a fresh perspective. From the sky the five-acre sculpture reveals itself in its entirety, allowing us to experience our deep ecological connection to the earth and understand that we are a small part in a much larger scheme. From the ground, we see the elements that shape the idea.  Perspective is lost and gained from either vantage point, elegantly reminding us of the larger goal of peace as well as the need to be mindful of the small everyday actions that make peace a reality.
As Growing Peace is gradually absorbed back into the earth, I hope that the traces remaining in our memory prompt us to plant the seeds that yield a harvest of peace. "

Indira has attended four art institutions, including University of Bombay, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she received her Masters. As an internationally renowned artist, Indira has participated in numerous community projects, solo and group exhibitions, dating as far back as 1991. Though some of Indira’s work has drawn influence from the diverse cultural history that embodies traditional Indian folk art, she has recently participated in a multitude of public works projects native to the Chicago area. Her most recent residence was with Saint Catherine’s University of St. Paul, Minnesota, where her project, Hand in Hand, was hosted. She has received multiple awards and grants for her thought provoking work including several from the Illinois Arts Council.

"The ideas and images of her art resonate with responses to her native India as a major intellectual and emotional inspiration for her creativity. Johnson's abstracted figurative works present a unique synthesis of two cultures and evoke growth and spirituality that transcends any earth bound locale.” - Gregory G. Knight, Director of Visual Arts, Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago

* Indira Johnson took part in AAAC exhibition program in Sept 2005 in the group exhibition Aphasia: 15th Annual Exhibition.  She was also chosen for inclusion in the exhibition sponsored by Artrain in conjunction with Brandywine called Infinite Mirror: Images of American Identity in which R. Lee was one of the curators.  A traveling exhibition through the  International Arts & Artists organization with an extensive schedule whose first venue is Syracuse U. on Jan 25, 2011. Indira is one of the many Asian American artists who have a unique message demonstrating how Asian culture is being reinvented to become a special partner in the making of a new America.

For more information about Indira Freitas Johnson go to her website.

Indira Freitas Johnson
Different Themes
Written by Lovely

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