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The works I’ve displayed here are bound to one another  as stylistic representatives of the visual narratives I’m developing through my storytelling.  In the beginning of this process I needed to inform myself; about what, I wasn’t exactly sure of, but that I needed more information was clear.  Some of that was acquired my musing.  I planted myself in a polder outside The Hague and starred at Dutch crops for hours, gathering my thoughts on fairytales.  Folklore is/was disseminated via oral traditions.  Fairytales are written, fixed and literary.  They are experienced as precious, decadent, opulent picture books made with skillful artisanal craftsmanship which celebrate dying and lost techniques which seem to imbue the pages themselves with magical properties. Lacking the skill base, I opted for digital “fakes” initially, but soon realized they weren’t feasible without arduous, lengthy research.  Knowing nothing about medieval manuscripts and how or why they were produced, I hit a wall when my assumptions were immediately disproven.  There were no manuscripts of fairytales from that period.  The fairytale I’m working with only became a fairytale when it was written down.  Prior to that, it was oral folklore.  Illuminated manuscripts were also liturgical, so the assumption that mine, or any would have been sanctioned and commissioned as holy was a faulty assumption. While researching everything the librarians at the UVA said I needed to consider, I began drawing the actual manuscripts because it was easier, meditative and surprisingly natural for my hand.  The intransigence of working by hand is a central tenant in my work.  Handwork grounds the ethereal for me and makes me feel like I’m graciously hosting my audience and serving them the fruits of my labor.  Ultimately, I’m making the work for myself1, but I also have the need to be connecting to people and making my work “useful”.

Source material consists of anything I create as a detail which later become moments of the fairytale.   I work in fragments and on some levels, I’d like these to come together as one seamless whole, but on others; that would be too restrictive and programmed for me and I’d rebel against myself.  There’s something validating about being the one who decides what history is and looks like.  History is written by the winners and I myself descend from those who didn’t win the battles and therefore seldom WRITE our outcomes.  In the written word and preserved manuscript, there is an assumed authority – here, that power belongs to me. Whatever comes next, however I next use or interpret this source material, it immediately has agency and validity acquired by being a referenceable historical document such as a folio from a medieval manuscript.

One commonality between source material and its historical equivalents is the presence of the primeval luminous characteristics represented by contrast of hue.  Contrast of hue is the color theory used internationally in folk art, costume, stained glass and illuminations.  The periods of time I fabricate are mostly Medieval and Renaissance from Europe to the Middle East.  These are almost always faking religious sources.  The manuscripts and stained glass I am inspired by are also wonderful examples of abstraction and emulating Fibonacci’s Golden Section Geometry.  Psychologically, I feel safe inside all of the enclosed and outlined spaces I work with.  All the millions of dots and shapes I use in my stained glass motifs, illuminated manuscripts and aniconic motifs are enclosed.   Source material, craftwork, handwork and manual labor are synonymous for me.  I need to use my hands in time with my mind or I get heady and out of sync.  Crafting gives me space to process.  Rather than submitting images of the “raw source material”, I’ve chosen pieces which are illustrative of their progressive range of usage.   That said, if you find yourself disturbed by the age incongruities, think of it in terms of the  X-Rayed revelations regarding the paintings beneath Masters such as: Picasso, Van Gogh, Goya, Seurat, Allori and Martinez paintings.  We all have our hidden iconography and history, I’ve made it clear that I bring it forward with me by reinventing mine as Source Material.

Chandra