Red, 2002, mixed media (photograph w/ stitches, top, yellow thread, & red silk), 13x17x6

Red, 2002, mixed media (photograph w/ stitches, top, yellow thread, & red silk), 13x17x6

Priya Kambli

My work has constantly dealt with issues of journey and memory. I integrate traditional photography with digital media as well as elements of mixed media and Installation. In an essay of Kambli’s work, Aaron Fine noted: “The particulars of (these pieces) are all simply props on a stage where our own memories must take on the role of actors. We are asked to imagine first the millions who set forth in this world leaving their homes and their families or bearing them with them. But we are moved by stages to consider our own losses, the bridges we have crossed, and the ones we burned behind us as we went.”

When I moved to America in 1993 I crammed 18 years of my life into one suitcase. It weighed approximately 45 kg. It wasn’t until recently that I started thinking about the objects I chose to bring and their selection process.

The objects were chosen for their magnetic ability of attracting and repelling memories. The status of these chosen objects increased substantially to the level of sacred relics for having being touched or given by a loved one, etc. These souvenirs contain within them the ability to vividly conjure memories of the past.

Distilling ones life to fit the finite parameters of a suitcase meant editing – the inevitability of certain memories being discarded while others attain a new significance. It further implied simplification of ones past – untangling the chaotic web so that a clear succinct pattern emerged.

In the Suitcases series I am interested in juxtaposing snippets of information that interact with each other to convey an open ended narration. The essence of the Suitcases series is the dialogue created by pairing of fragments. The items contained within the suitcases are sticky with associations and often pertain to travel. Each suitcase deals with a separate theme and corresponds to a specific hue. Color is the origin of each piece, giving each suitcase its individual personality and focus by dictating the objects it contains and their relationships. Even though the suitcases are self contained and conceived to function independently they all share many physical and conceptual characteristics.

Priya Kambli was born and lived in India before emigrating to the US in 1993. She earned her MFA from the University of Houston, TX and currently teaches in the Art department at Truman State University in Missouri. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the University of North Texas, the William Benton Museum of Art at the University of Connecticut, Houston Center for Photography, The Photographic Resource Center in Boston, the Photographic Center Northwest Gallery in Seattle, Texas Photographic Society in San Antonio, San Francisco Camerawork, Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach, and Woman Made Gallery in Chicago. Kambli was an artist in residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock and has received grants from the Houston Center for Photography and the Salina Art Center.