When you walk into the Black Book Gallery for the opening of Oh, The Places You Will Go! on Friday night, the lights will be turned off and the only thing you will see are the fantastical light-boxes of husband-wife duo Hari and Deepti.
"The show will be an all-dark show, so no lights in the gallery except for the back-lit pieces. We want the viewers to be attracted, like moths to a flame, to our art, with no distractions," Hari says. "As one of our followers commented on Twitter, 'Let the light warm your soul.' The pieces are intricate, and we invite the viewers to be intimate and close to the pieces and be transported to the magical worlds we have created."
Each piece is a hand-cut sculpture that tells a story based on the couple's travels from India to Denver and through the American West. "We are lucky to be in Colorado amidst all the wilderness and amazing places you can travel, and we have been doing a bit of traveling this summer. So the show is our take on all the experiences of travel and all the inspirations that we have in our long journey from India to Denver to making it in the art scene," Hari continues.
"Our process is very collaborative, imaginative and whimsical. We usually brainstorm on an idea derived from our travels, experiences and stories, and we translate that into a sketch. The sketches are then transferred to a piece of translucent vellum and then we distribute work to cut the layers. Each layer is hand-cut and is different, so there are no two pieces that are same," Hari says. "We are constantly checking the pieces against light to get an idea of the finished product.
"The narratives in our light-boxes usually deal with the theme of exploration. We believe that we are all explorers, warriors on a path of discovery. We moved from India to Denver, and for us that was a journey of experiences, exploring the unknown," he adds.
"We love traveling and our favorite places are Moab and Yellowstone. We feel the scale of nature in these places and how we are so small compared to the mountains and the trees and how we are constantly exploring and adapting.
Keep reading for more about Hari and Deepti.
"Our surroundings inspire us: the books we read, the movies we watch, our travels, our experiences and our stories. We are what we are because of them," Hari says.
Their style is derived from Paavakoothu, shadow-puppets from their hometown in Kerala, India. Both Hari and Deepti's work and Paavakoothu bear resemblance to the Balinese shadow puppet art form Wayang Kulit. But while those puppets of are made of leather, Hari and Deepti prefer paper.
"Paper is brutal in its simplicity as a medium. It demands the attention of the artist while it provides the softness they need to mold it into something beautiful," Hari explains. "It is playful, light, colorless and colorful. It is minimal and intricate. It reflects light, creates depth and illusions in a way that it takes the artist through a journey with limitless possibilities."
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