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Aria Nadii

Artist's Interview

How long have you been creating?
According to my mother, she put crayons in my hand as soon as I was old enough not to eat them, and from then on I was constantly drawing. I realize that we (almost) all created as children; the real question is why some people take it up again as adults or never stop in the first place. I was one of those who never stopped. As a child I made my own paper dolls, comic books and puppets. I think I had my first watercolor set when I was 3 or 4. When I was 11, I talked my parents into letting me take art classes for kids at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and I was hooked. Maybe it's a calling. When children stop naturally making art, I think it has something to do with why they stop playing or believing in magic. I never stopped doing either of those things. Art-making is connected to my experience of the world as magical and playful. When we experience the world with our imagination and sense of wonder engaged, we are connected to the source of all creation and it expresses itself through us.
What is your medium of choice?
I work primarily in oil-based paints and glazes, gold leaf, raw pigments, thread, ink and paper on canvas. I rarely use water based paints. I prefer the sensuality and vibrancy of oil. Sometimes I incorporate fabrics and metallic foils and other materials that seem necessary to get the work to reach completion. In the end, I'll use whatever works. It's all about the sense of adventure and play, the transformation of materials and ideas. I combine classical painting techniques with a mixed media approach. I apply the ink and bits of other matter in the same painterly fashion as the more traditional paints and so I make no distinction between them. I love the power of iconography, and fragments of antique Ephemera. These things become part of the atmosphere and essence of a piece. The work is all about evocation.
What are your motivations for creating?
It seems to be hard-wired. My art is a communion with the magic and wonder around me, with the myths and stories we live by, with the emotions triggered by memory and experience, and with awe at the very act and process of creation.
What other artists and movements inform your work?
I feel that my work pays tribute to an entire history of unknown and sometimes unintentional artists, those who painted the icons, the retablos, the religious vignettes, the alchemical diagrams as well as the artists of India and Persia, with their delicate, stylized miniatures and motifs informed by tradition. I am additionally indebted to the scribes of the Middle Ages, with their illuminated manuscripts, and more delightfully, their palimpsests, with the blurred effacements and over-writings. Also very close to my heart are the textiles and decorative arts of North India/Rajasthan, where some of my ancestors originated. A great deal of inspiration also comes from old children's book and fairy tale illustrations. Then, the known artists, many of whom are modern and probably inspired by some of the same past themes as I. Joseph Cornell, Max Ernst, Antoni Tapies, Brothers Quay, Fumio Tachibana, John Duncan, Paul Klee, Remedios Varo, Gustav Klimt, William Blake, and so many more.
What do you find stimulating right now? How does this influence your creative process?
I have lately been intrigued with the works of certain outsider artists. Adolf Wolfli is my favorite. I find his work to be powerful and beautiful.
Read anything good lately?
A very interesting book called "Supplies" by Julia Cameron, who is also the author of the popular "The Artists Way." It is a sort of handbook for successful artists to fulfill their creative destinies. It tells of the kinds of people who can be our best allies, and also what sort of people make it their goal to sabotage and discourage us. I've experienced both kinds and I know that Julia Cameron is right on the money with her descriptions.
Salvage art is growing in popularity; what's your approach to recycling in your work?
Since I see what I do as alchemy, there is more of a synergy or transformation of the material, which goes beyond how I think of recycling. I think of recycling as something like using old paper/cans/bottles to make new paper/cans/bottles. When I use something old, I combine it with very dissimilar things, recontextualizing it in the process. In this manner, the object is totally transformed, rather than just renewed. Other than some fragments and scraps of vintage paper, most of my raw materials are new. They are just combined and painted to look timeless, like artifacts. I like the description given for Joseph Cornell's process by Linda Roscoe Hartigan. In "Shadowplay Eterniday" she explains that Cornell's interest in the ordinary and fleeting was so elevated that he called it "metaphysique d'ephemera" suggesting that literal things can create an elaborate and subtle form of magic.
What would you like your fellow EBSQ artists and collectors to know about you and or your work?
At the heart of my work is an appreciation of wonder and devotion. Each piece is an artifact of the special relationship and reverence I have for the focal motif. Whether that focal point is a Hindu deity, mythical creature, allegorical scene, or chimerical construction of my own, there is a story inherent in the process through which it was made. I use familiar and iconographic designs for them so that you can immediately access them and feel the warmth and humanity of these things as deeply as I do. It is a personal language constructed of what is familiar to our collective history and mythology. The purpose of using such images is to keep the work accessible. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel, but to remind myself and others of what we already know in our hearts. Each piece is an icon of the process of its creation and the inspiration is embedded in the construction itself. I work with a positive attitude and a soul directed to craft and beauty, and I want each image to convey that feeling, like a talisman. From the generous feedback I've received from those who have purchased my work, it is evident that this what really happens. I've been told that I brought a little bit of happy magic into their homes. I am deeply honored by this description. That my work is a source of joy affirms my feeling that art is a calling, and that a good feeling is something no one can take away. My advice to fellow artists is simple. Do what fascinates you. Believe in yourself. Belief is the most powerful magic of all.

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