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Exhibition shows India’s influence on UNT artist

Susan ChealBefore there were drones delivering DVDs and duffel bags to Amazon shoppers, before there were cargo ships and 18-wheelers, there were trade routes. Trade routes were how fantastic and unfamiliar goods from unknown cultures traveled from East to West, and West to East. India, like a neuron for synapses in the brain, was a central hub for almost all trade.

Susan Cheal, right, an associate professor of drawing and painting at the University of North Texas, spent two months this past spring in a residency program for artists in India, a country whose history of trade is still embedded in its culture. The trip inspired her, and she will show new works that draw from her time in India in “Fulfillment Center.” 

  • What: “Fulfillment Center,” an exhibition featuring work by Susan Cheal, an associate professor of drawing and painting at the University of North Texas, created during and after her residency at the Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi, India.
  • When: Aug. 31  to Sept. 22 . An opening reception will be held 5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 4.
  • Where: UNT on the Square, 109 N. Elm St. Denton
  • Cost: Free
  • Learn More.

“I think people either love India or they don’t, because it is so alive, in every way,” Cheal said. “It is just teeming with life. Bad, good, rich, poor, industrialized, agrarian. It had a very profound effect on me.”

Featured artworks will include about six paintings on large canvases and a number of drawings Cheal created while at the Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi for her residency.

“I’m really interested in the idea of trade routes and how Indian textiles moved to different countries and how valuable they were because of their superior technology,” Cheal said. “Part of the things that you’ll see in the exhibit are influenced by ancient trade route maps. I began thinking of how contemporary methods of transporting and supplying these goods echo, but depart from those ancient days. ”

Cheal said that during her stay in India, she had a lot of freedom to travel throughout New Delhi and other cities. She enjoyed going to the markets to look at the saris and cloths that painted the vendor’s stands in silky colors.

The historic trade routes and the increasing number of call centers in India gave Cheal the idea for the title of the exhibition, “Fulfillment Center.”

“A lot of people think about India as a spiritually and visually fulfilling, as exotic and rich,” Cheal said. “But, also, you think about the big warehouse fulfillment centers that distribute products. Call centers and Amazon have tons of fulfillment centers in India. I find this really ironic. India is still a place where the sacred is embedded into everyday life; just as its love of trading is.”

-Caleb Downs, student assistant, News Promotions

(Photo by Caleb Downs)

Posted on: Mon 03 August 2015

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