March 25 – April 30, 2023
Gallery Route One’s Visiting Artist Program presents Identity, a series of mixed media images by Nimisha Doongarwal.
Doongarwal’s mixed media artworks focus on the human face, which each containing an inventory of fragments: paintings, photographs, fabrics, and digital prints. The work explores the varying relationships between past and popular culture and references social issues including racism, gender inequality, immigration. Every image tells a unique story through visual links to history and current reality.
The artist presents familiar visual signs and oral histories arranged into layered collages. Each artwork starts with a curated collection of photographs, fabric, and other materials. The final work results from the repetitive process of tearing and layering prints, collaging, painting, stamping, and adding fabric.
Artist interview with Nimisha Doogarwal
Visiting artist, Nimisha Doogarwal, stands in front of two of her artworks: “Who am I?“ #2 (left) and “Who am I?” #1 (right), in Gallery Route One’s Project Space, where “Identity” is currently installed.
For her exhibition, Identity (on view through April 30), visiting artist Nimisha Doongarwal presents a series of conceptually layered collage portraits. Each artwork focuses on the human face, with each containing an inventory of fragments: paintings, photographs, fabrics, and digital prints creating visual links to history and current reality. With centuries of cultural and traditional overlaps, these abstract identities emphasize racial similarities over differences. The work explores the varying relationships between past and popular culture and references social issues including racism, gender inequality, and immigration.
Partial installation view of Doongarwal’s exhibition: Identity
Q: Do you have a specific goal in mind when you create these portraits?
A: My ultimate goal as an artist is to create work that engages and inspires viewers to think more strongly about the ways in which gender and racial biases shape our society, and to consider the ways in which we can work to dismantle these systems of oppression. I believe that art has the power to spark dialogue and change, and I am committed to using my art as a means of amplifying the voices and experiences of marginalized communities. Overall, my art is a means of creating space for dialogue and change, as I work to raise awareness of the ongoing struggles and triumphs of women and marginalized communities.
Q: What have you learned most through your art practice?
A: My studio practice is very different from most of the artists. I am a full-time engineering manager still, so most days I’m working until 5 p.m. on most days, and my art starts after that. I also create my art on weekends and the best part is time isn’t an issue. I’m super passionate about it, but most of the time I’m working nights creating my art, though I try not to create every day because I feel like I need space away from it. So, I create when I can, when I’m in the state to create and am able to take the time to work on a certain piece until I’m at a satisfactory stopping point. I’m not a perfectionist, but I want to make sure I feel satisfied with a piece before I call it done, which is sometimes years.
Q: What are some of the ways you draw inspiriation?
A: I watch a lot of documentaries. I’ve been a longtime fan of watching David Attenborough films about climate change. He is able to communicate the importance of what our actions are and how it is affecting nature without throwing in in viewers’ faces. But I really appreciate all types of documentaries and they really provide more inspiration than anything.
Q: What other projects are you working on?
A: There are three major issues that I connect with very strongly and I’ve been continuously working on projects related to these issues. So Identity is one of the series, and I’m actually working on a series called People for Change. People for Change focuses on people who really have used their power in order to change the world. And for me, portraits mean their story, their life story, not just their faces. I’m also starting on another series called Climate Change, about what “before and after” looks like for animals in their habitats and how climate change is affecting them. I’d never call any of my series done because until I see in the world these issues are eradicated, I can’t call my work “done.”
Colonial Contrast by Nimisha Doongarwal
Nimisha has been featured in publications and magazines such as Forbes, Maake magazine, and Artmarket magazine and has exhibited in museums and galleries including the De Young Museum, San Francisco International Airport, Museum of Northern California, and Brown University.
Nimisha Doongarwal was born in India and currently lives in San Francisco. To learn more about her work, please visit www.nimishart.com