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Priya Kambli

I am very excited to announce this weeks highlight: Priya Kambli, who was born in India. Moving to the United States as a new adult at age 18, she carried with her only one suitcase. In the States is where she began a career as an artist and her work has since been inspired by her migration.

Kambli holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and a Masters degree in Photography from the University of Houston. She is currently a Professor of Art at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. In 2008 PhotoLucida awarded her a book publication prize for her project Color Falls Down, which was published in 2010.

Kambli was a handfull of projects, including two that are ongoing. It's hard to feature just one. For this highlight, we will be focusing on her "Color Falls Down" and "Kitchen Gods" series, from 2006-2012.

Artist Statement "Color Falls Down"

"At age 18, a couple of years after the death of my parents, I moved from India to the United States with all my belongings in one suitcase. My photographs, which are rooted in my fascination with my parents, visually express the notion of transience and split cultural identity caused by the act of migration. In Color Falls Down these issues are seen through the lens of my own personal history and cultural identity. I re-contextualize and alter my family snapshots and personal artifacts to reveal the correlations between generations, cultures and memory.

Color Falls Down is a conversation with my ancestors and also an effort to reconcile the cultural dualities that have helped form my hybrid identity. This conversation began with the domestic objects and family photographs that I carried with me in my suitcase and which have been my companions ever since. My self-portrait is the constant that links my past with my present. In this work I am neither Indian nor American, but the link that chains generations together."

Artist Statement "Kitchen Gods"

One of my most startling early childhood memories is of finding one of my father’s painstakingly composed family photographs pierced by my mother. She cut holes in them so as to completely obliterate her own face while not harming the image of my sister and myself beside her. Even as a child I was aware that this act was quite significant - but what it signified was beyond my ability to decipher. As an adult I continue to be disturbed by these artifacts, which not only encompass the photographer’s hand but also the subject’s fingerprints. Even though her incisions have a violent quality to them, as an image-maker I am aesthetically drawn by the physical mark, its presence and its careful placement.

These marred artifacts have formed a reference point and inspiration for my new body of work, Kitchen Gods, but they do not limit the form my own work takes. My need to decipher and address my family photographs is personal. My work is rooted in my fascination with my parents – both of whom died when I was young. Therefore for me these family photographs hold even more mythological weight. In my work I labor to maintain my parents the way Indian housewives do their kitchen deities. I also strive to connect the generations, my ancestors and my children, who have been separated by death and migration. Like my mother, I alter these photographs to modify the stories they tell.

© Priya Kambli

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