Repaint History Call For Art Fund Recipient: Saloni Shah
We are thrilled to have sat down with Saloni Shah our recent Call For Art fund recipient and talk to her about her art, practice and much more.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a multi-disciplinary artist who aims to use the versatility of patterns as a custom language to tell a story. I was born in Mumbai, India but spent my early childhood in the UK before traveling to the US for further studies. My artwork serves as a reflection of this journey, seeking to introduce accounts from one place to another while simultaneously excavating their convoluted historical relations. A significant facet of my work is discerning the role of the viewer and myself in these narratives via the act of layering in the form of interactive elements.
Tell us about an encounter with art that has shaped your practice.
I had the chance to train at the Weaver Centre in Mumbai, India where I was introduced to block printing and got to witness the vast history of textiles and patterns. It was fascinating learning about the history and saddening to realize how much of it is dismissed and unheard of.
What has your experience been in terms of mentorship and a sense of community in the art world, particularly among women artists?
I have been extremely lucky to have women artists such as Lauren Frances Adams (@laurenfrancesadams), Jackie Milad (@_jackie_milad_), and Andrea Chung (@andreachungstudio) to look up to and guide me. Their insight and support of my work have allowed me to be confident about the story I am trying to narrate and believe in my voice as an artist. They are all incredible artists and witnessing how they interweave history and art has been fundamental in my own practice.
Image courtesy of the artist
What advice would you give to artists beginning their careers?
To experiment and not be tied down to what we are trained to think art is. To believe what you are saying as an artist is important and needs to be heard which in turn motivates you to get into the studio and make the work! ( I know this really helps me!)
What would you change about the art world if you could?
I think it is really important to consider what we label as "high art" and where that comes from and why we have these labels for art from other countries which does not allow them to be given the same importance as Western art.
How will the Repaint History fund support your career?
The fund will be crucial to help me continue to make work for the current series I am working on and allow to me gain access to materials that would be out of my reach otherwise! I am extremely thankful for the support from Repaint History and am excited to make more work!
Image courtesy of the artist
Are there any new projects you are currently working on?
I am currently working on a series called "The Fabric that was Banned". It narrates the story of Chintz - the Indian fabric popularised for its vivid colors which is tinted with a distressing history of transformation and disassociation which is largely neglected. The popular fabric was widely exported from India throughout Europe, however, with the fear of losing profits and protests from locals in their own country, the British Raj banned Chintz and went on to imitate the process. This fabric was stripped of its history and manipulated to be purposefully exotic, leaving behind a trail of suffering for the Indian craftsmen and economy. Nuanced iterations of the iconic motifs continue to emerge in mainstream Western media yet their origins are still extensively disregarded.
Who are your favourite women artists right now?
So many! Saira Wasim, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Gianna Chun, Baseera Khan!