How do artists transform scientific observation to reveal the realities of water crises in the face of denial, dismissal, and inaction?
In their sculptural artworks on the impacts of water insecurities, both Vibha Galhotra (India) and Tali Weinberg (USA) reach beyond documentation to create artworks that layer emotion, cultural heritage, and activism. From revealing the Yamuna River’s tangible toxicity using ghungroo bells in Vibha Galhotra’s Flow sculptures to reinscribing scientific data on drought, illness, and temperature changes in Tali Weinberg’s Woven Climate Datascapes, these artists employ beauty, shape, and color to prompt viewers to examine the gaps between their perceptions of water crises and their entangled realities. In this conversation, the two artists discuss their investigative creative processes and share artworks that subvert viewers’ expectations and transform visible realities into emotional understanding.
Born in 1978 in North of India, Vibha Galhotra (New Delhi, India) is a Delhi-based multi-disciplinary artist whose visual, performative, and participatory art projects address rapid industrialization and suggest possibilities for reimagining societal and cultural structures. She is trained as a printmaker, earning her BFA in Graphics from the Government College of Arts, Chandigarh, India (1999) and her MFA in Graphics at Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, India (2001). While she has been engaged in land-based and environmental art for decades, her engagement with the Yamuna river began with an invitation from Khoj (International Artists’ Association) to participate in an initiative to clean up the river. Her large-scale sculptures address the shifting topography of the world under the impact of globalization. Galhotra sees herself as being part of the restructuring of culture, society and geography, both of New Delhi, where she lives, and of the world at large. She uses her work to redefine her own existence in contemporary society, both philosophically and structurally. Offering an alternative to the conventional approach to studying the environment, Galhotra seeks to expand the discourse to include topics pertaining to tradition, history, economics and political intervention. Galhotra’s recent solo exhibitions include: “Beyond the Blue” at Jack Shainman Gallery, New York (2020); “Climacteric” at Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi, Chandigarh, India (2019); “Insanity in the Age of Reason” in New Delhi (2017); and “Absur –City –Pity –Dity” at Jack Shainman Gallery, New York (2015). She has Participated in many national and international group shows, including “Water Line” at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, “The Darkened Mirror: Global Perspectives On Water” at San Jose Museum of Art, “Unfiltered: An Exhibition About Water” at the William Benton Museum of Art (Connecticut, USA), and “Kailash Cartographies” at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (Parsons School of Design/The New School, New York), among others.At present, Galhotra is a fellow of the Jerusalem International Fellowship program 2020-21. She was awarded the Asia Arts Future Award in 2019. Galhotra was the 2017 Asian Cultural Council Fellow in the United States, earned a Rockefeller Grant (2016), and received a Young Women Achievers Award given by Young FICCI Ladies Organisation (YFLO) (2015).
Tali Weinberg (USA) draws on a history of weaving as a subversive language for women and marginalized groups to create a feminist, material archive in response to the worsening climate crisis. Through sculpture, drawing, and textiles, she traces relationships among climate change, water, extractive industry, illness, and displacement; between personal and communal loss; and between corporeal and ecological bodies. Weinberg’s work is held in public and private collections and is exhibited internationally.
Recent exhibitions include the University of Colorado Art Museum, 21C Museum, Berkeley Art Museum, 108 Contemporary, and the Center for Craft. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, Surface Design Journal, the Tulsa Voice and literary Journal Ecotone. Select honors include: Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Serenbe Fellowship, SciArt Bridge, Windgate Fellowship to Vermont Studio Center, Lia Cook Jacquard Residency, and Sculpture Space, among others. Weinberg has taught at California College of the Arts, University of Tulsa, Penland School of Craft, and lectures and gives workshops throughout the US. She is currently a 2021 virtual artist-in-residence at the Museum of Art and Design.
Press Your Ear to the Wind is an event series curated by Elinor New (BA '20) and presented by the Gallatin Galleries and WetLab, with support from the NYU Gallatin Dean’s Award for Graduating Seniors. Borrowing its title from Deborah Jack’s artwork “Foremothers,” this series is an invitation to listen to the wisdom held in the land, water, and our own bodies, and to trace the currents of resilience that flow from our inherited pasts into the futures we generate.
To learn more about the series, please visit: https://wp.nyu.edu/gallatingalleries/press-your-ear-to-the-wind/
Photo Credit: Artwork by Deborah Jack, “what is the value of water if it quenches our thirst for…” Graphic Design: Lau Guzmán