Aneesha Reddy is a Hyderabad-based abstract artist, who creates mixed media artwork primarily with fabric waste and environment-friendly painting materials.
“I have been passionate about art and the environment for as long as I can remember! In fact, I was six when I hosted my first art exhibition.” shares Aneesha. She reminisces that even as a kid when she would visit a tailor's studio with her mum, she would find herself enamoured by the assortment of fabric scraps littered on the floor. “Even at that age”, reflects Aneesha, “it didn’t quite make sense to me as to how those fabric scraps could be considered ‘waste’.” She would then make sure to bring a bagful of these fabric scraps back home to further upcycle them.
Aneesha’s art, today, is inspired by the untold stories of artisans and weavers across India.
She believes that through the lens of textiles one can retrace India’s vibrant history and love affair with textiles and craft. With an intention to change how one perceives and experiences textiles, Aneesha started incorporating them in her artwork. She finds herself constantly traversing the fluid boundaries of the textile and art domains to create unique and captivating abstract pieces of art.
After attending a series of workshops on block-printing, ikat weaving, khadi spinning and kalamkari painting, Aneesha’s awe for the indigenous crafts further amplified. What merely started as a curiosity to learn about the Indian crafts, eventually laid the foundation of her artwork. She felt it was important to revisit these crafts and re-present them in new formats. Overtime she started to realize that fabric didn’t always have to be used for clothing, it could simply be hung on walls to be displayed as art. Similarly, block prints didn’t always have to be created on cloth they could be used on canvases as well. Since then, she has been exploring and working with various painting materials and printing techniques.
Along the way, she realized that for her artwork to be truly “sustainable”, she would also have to tackle other aspects of art creation. For example, in her search for non-synthetic art supplies, it became apparent that, sadly, most commercial and mainstream art supplies are terrible for the environment.
As art, traditionally, has always been created to “last forever”, manufacturers infuse harmful synthetics to preserve their products for a very long period of time.
But in order to create and call a piece of art work sustainable or upcycled, she had to find alternatives to the mass produced art supplies. She has since identified eco-friendly substitutes like paper, natural paints and reclaimed wood frames that can be used in place of canvas, synthetic paints, plastic and wood respectively. Thus started her journey in creating sustainable and upcycled art.
Aneesha shared that her process of creating an artwork usually begins with choosing a color palette. For this, she either refers to the textiles around her or draws inspiration from her surroundings. She then gathers a variety of materials like paints, crayons, ink, fabric scraps, old bubble wrap, stencils, dried flowers/leaves and magazine pages.
After creating a rough sketch of how she would like to construct the artwork she starts layering materials onto the paper. Her pieces typically have varying number of layers, some two while others as many as six. She then studies the composition and balance of the piece before giving it the final touches.
“One of my most favorite moments is fitting a finished piece into a frame made out of reclaimed wood from old shipping boxes.” she says. Each of Aneesha’s frames is unique and lends immense character to her work. She feels that it is, in fact, in this moment when her artwork comes to life.
Through her pieces, Aneesha seeks to highlight the beauty of even the smallest of fabric scraps. She hopes that these scraps can serve as reminders for one to not just be conscious with one’s clothing purchases but also reflect on how they are sourced and made. In addition, she also hopes to lend her support for Telangana’s artisans and weavers. For this she has been contributing a portion of her sales towards their welfare.
She acknowledges that there is so much more that she can still do in terms of art and sustainability. She believes that with each piece that she creates her creative process has evolved but she hopes to adopt more sustainable practices in the times ahead.
Aneesha wants to challenge the notion of creating art that seemingly lasts in perpetuity. And so her personal mission is to create art that treads so lightly on the environment that it can disappear without a trace.
Article credit - Harshitha Venati
Image credit - Aneesha Reddy
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