Short video of the exhibition. videoinstall:menagerie
Link to Thirsty Thursday discussion:
Menagerie on 23rd Street
The exhibition windows of NIAD on 23rd street are wildly overstuffed this holiday season. Amongst a backdrop of drawings that are doodled and dotted, emerge a collection of creatures that are striped and spotted. This menagerie includes an assortment of tickles and roars from the furriest felines to amphibians galore.
At daybreak, dapper penguins appear, as mischievous musketeers, parading their way through showers of shapes. Marsupials, with pocketfuls of petunias, patiently postpone their leaping while snails slowly scribe a chalk hopscotch design.
By midday, squirrels engage in patterns of play by using their tails as paintbrushes to carry colors along. These flurries of bristled swoops create new routes for intense frolicking. A bubble blowing hippo joins a unicorn with a mane of spun yarn to prance upon these often sideways highways. A bunch of baby orangutans toss their bananas aside in delight of this unusual sight. They marvel at the spectrum of strands that shed from the unicorn as it shakes its shampooed tresses. The babies scamper to gather the emitted magical threads and weave them into friendship bracelets. They enthusiastically adorn the orange arms of one another with these ribboned rainbows tied tightly.
This menagerie is full of afternoon festivities. Acrobatic bats cloaked in knitted capes perform in an eco-friendly gymnasium made from geraniums. Limerick cracking lemurs entertain crowds of bejewelled beasts and besties. Canines, with smiles shaped like spirals, celebrate by slurping up melting birthday cake. Elephants rejoice by linking their trunks together in a garland formation. Chickens disco all day.
In the evening, frogs full of dessert quiet their burping. A moose with heart shaped eyes looks lovingly at a butterfly unfurling its trapezoid wings. Precocious pigs on pillows drift off to sleep, soothed by a llama’s cooing lullaby.
The menagerie on 23rd street is a boisterous community of laughing, lunching, brunching, chanting, and dancing creatures who admire one another’s distinctly different seasonal coats. This merry menagerie is an ensemble of the entire alphabet of animals enmeshed in raucous joy.
About the Curator
Prajakti Jayavant is an artist and educator whose students have ranged from ages three to one hundred and three. She has taught Fine Arts in elementary schools, special education, colleges, and convalescent hospitals. This year, Prajakti designed the holiday card. It includes eighteen original artworks by wonderful NIAD artists that are digitally collaged with bows and stars.
“Menagerie on 23rd Street” features guest appearances by characters from her on-line exhibitions “Chameleon with a Kaleidoscope” along with Spike and Feathers from “Travelogue.”
Copyright © Prajakti Jayavant 2021
Press release for “Rise Up! Art as Action” by San Francisco Arts Education Project:
“Artists express alarm about our nation’s new directions in the San Francisco Arts Education Project’s latest exhibition designed to interact with young viewers. Each of the participating artists has a singular voice, a point of view and a medium with which to express themselves as they respond to the state of our nation. Each artist also recognizes that being part of this exhibition for this particular organization means they are speaking directly to school-age children, ages 5-17, through their work and so have created prompts and ideas for involving the SFArtsEd student audience to respond to the work. In this way, the visitors will be invited to be part of the conversation and take action.”
“welcome || unwelcome” is a project that addresses the social, political, and emotional impact of the presidential election on our terms. So many of us are frustrated, angry, distressed, frightened and even energized to take action as a result of the current administration’s policies that are, in my opinion, often inhumane and unconstitutional.
This project is a kind of exercise in setting boundaries towards things that are unwelcome, unfair, or hurtful and also as a means to identify qualities that encourage the welcoming of peace, joy, and freedom.
Think of the doors near the mats as the doors to our world, our country, our communities and our lives. “welcome || unwelcome” is a project that calls for your voices, your choices, and your participation as my fellow artistic collaborators because “we, (are)the (fabulous) people.”
Write and draw your thoughts about what you want to support and celebrate and that which you will not tolerate. Your responses can be anything that is important to you, from the personal to the more politically charged.
I’ve rolled out the welcome mat to my family in India, soggy doggies in the rain, women’s rights, and even an endangered chipmunk or two. I’ve also been known to slam doors shut to anything mean or scary. I’ve contributed my own responses for “welcome || unwelcome.” Now I welcome you to fill up those doors with your thoughts!
Prompts for children:
Please respond to both questions on separate cards.
1) What do you welcome into your country, your community, and your life?
2) What do you unwelcome in your country, your community, and your life?
Use the markers to write and/ or draw your responses on the cards. Get creative and experiment with various text sizes and styles. Use the scissors to cut the cards into shapes and symbols.
After you’ve finished both cards, (one for ‘welcome’ and one for ‘unwelcome,’) tape the cards on the door above the appropriate mat.
Copyright Prajakti Jayavant, 2017
Artist In Residence Program 2016
My interest involves the questioning of a work’s function as object/ drawing/ painting. I practice restraint with the fragile tactility of paper and the vast temperament of paint. The traditional drawing material of paper is no longer flat but now holds unenclosed volume. Of slight bulk and build, this work has a relationship to the wall and intrudes upon the surrounding space. I work within these parameters to create significance from the insignificant and to expand perceptual thought and emotion through subtlety.
While At Headlands
I am going to paint, cut, blend, and fold into the oscillating tension of endless, natural beauty amidst the armored grit and order of this former military site. With curiosity as culprit and painterly discipline as guide, I plan to bring down ceilings, elevate surfaces, and thwart corners by further relating my dimensional artworks to the architecture itself. My urbanite self will be newly negotiating with the temporal sunlight to build structure from outlines and to ease a different painted luminosity into the textured development of complex color.
Overall, I will continue my interest in combining the following ideas to create painted, abstract forms: simplicity/ complexity; beauty/ malady; organic/ architectural; fragility/ strength; interior/ exterior narratives and settings; and the ephemeral qualities of materials.
Copyright Prajakti Jayavant 2016
Known for highly dimensional, often deeply colored work, with this new show Prajakti Jayavant takes a leap. Pushing herself to achieve form from paint, and feeling from mark, these pieces lie tighter to the plane of wall, ceiling or floor- defining their territory with quiet force.
Looked at from afar, Jayavant’s art appears solid, grounded, known. On closer inspection subtle gradations in color, treatment, and line add liquidity to the sculptural forms. Layered with pigment reflecting back emotion, more than light, these dark empathic pieces coax minimalism towards sensuality.
Jayavant counts among her influences Martin, Ryman, Fontana, Tuttle, Twombly and Hesse. Reviewing an earlier solo show, Kenneth Baker wrote, “Jayavant can marshal…a range of references: to Richard Tuttle’s early canvas pieces, to the scrap metal vocabulary of the late John Chamberlain, the punning Africa-map/ elephant-ear forms of David Ireland, perhaps even to certain early folded sculptures of David Rabinowitch.”
It is by placing herself squarely in this lineage that she is able to limn the lines between the cerebral, the process oriented, formalism, and craft to carve out a trajectory all her own.
Sometimes taking years to complete, each piece documents a long and deepening understanding of the narrow parameters in which she chooses to explore. Indefatigable, Jayavant keeps going until history, thought, and emotion work together to push the piece into the world. Existing on its own- both apart from, and within, all it contains.
Copyright Tracy Wheeler 2015
Excerpt from “Crossing the line/ undoing the eye/ I: a reflection on category.” by Joan Waltemath
“Prajakti Jayavant’s painted paper works fold and bend the monochrome plane until they are neither painting or sculpture, but both. And although they hang on the wall, their protrusions engage a sculptural sensibility through a quasi-painterly form – one that is integral. Nothing is stuck on here. The resulting uniqueness of her objects makes them feel like something not seen before; oscillating between painting and sculpture, they ask us to reconsider the permeability of the border between the two disciplines in a way that articulates both a generational and cultural perspective.”
Copyright © Joan Waltemath 2014
John Zarobell, Stephen Goldstine, and Prajakti Jayavant/ Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2012
Painter Prajakti Jayavant’s scrappy kind of art
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Prajakti Jayavant’s work has appeared in Bay Area group shows regularly for several years. Now Meridian offers a comprehensive look at her work in an exhibition organized by former San Francisco Museum of Modern Art curator John Zarobell.
Jayavant has carefully weighed her position as a painter coming late to a long-ongoing interrogation of art objects’ limits, of abstraction and of viewers’ contributions to the reality of art.
Her pieces take the form of paper sheets coiled, creased, stapled, trimmed, painted and occasionally scored to produce things that may look like artworks or merely like scraps of – something.
That the common culture in America remains confused about what it values, about how to value the perceived qualities of things, and that media of mass influence impinge on these quandaries, lends Jayavant’s work a more than academic relevance.
Some people may see the articulations in her work – the creases, the traces of material memory – merely as disfigurements: a trap to lure them into naively admiring damage masquerading as creativity.
Others will sense a pattern of decisions embedded in the differences, including color – monochrome rules here – that individualize Jayavant’s works.
Her least articulated pieces flirt with the zero degree of definition by which an artwork can assert a distinctive mode of presence. That borderline appears only when and where a fabricated object materializes it. The assent, or consensus, of viewers may be all that affirms its reality.
But shy of that level of risk, Jayavant can marshal, before properly prepared eyes, a range of references: to Richard Tuttle’s early canvas pieces, to the scrap metal vocabulary of the late John Chamberlain, the punning Africa-map/elephant-ear forms of David Ireland, perhaps even to certain early folded sculptures of David Rabinowitch. I’d be impressed if she knows them.
I even see, or can imagine that I see, in her “Untitled No. 30″ (2003) a reference to Robert Gober’s limbless wax torsos and simulated bags of cat litter, examples of homegrown American surrealism ostensibly worlds away from the formal reserve of Jayavant’s art.
So the question then becomes: what other forms for referentiality might abstraction offer beyond linguistic meaning?
To what, for example, do the exquisite works by the San Francisco based artist Prajakti Jayavant refer? Are they in fact caught in the infinite loop of their own self-referentiality? Made of cut, stitched, folded, creased, and stapled paper, her monochromatic painting- sculptures must certainly be said to signify something other than merely themselves. This need not mean, however, that we must play the associative game of discovering signs in them, allusions to some recognizable, realistic object ‘out there’ in the ‘real world.’
They are certainly self-contained, free of categorical, optical reference to say, the lapis lazuli ornaments worn by Egyptian nobles, or to the jade buttons of Confucian China. They are not building blocks of Victorian era brown stone houses or black pillows cushioning the heads of the dead entombed in eternal sleep.
But they do suggest stories, reflections on suffering, malady, beauty, and desire. They suggest inchoate, affective forces at work in the world that stir us, emotionally, to life. They are works in the sense of labor, a type of materialized thought that is bracketed between representation and interpretation, between which they resonate with feelings that mold, fold, and sculpt our responses to them.
They act on us, shape us, makes us what we literally are, what we concretely become when we experience them. They are records of events, of actions, and to experience them means that we must recreate them, by identifying with them, through interjecting their emotional tonalities. They offer us the chance to become empathic.
They are then, signs of ourselves, not of themselves. We are their reference; they signify us when we discover ourselves outside of the usual frames of reference to, and conventions of, optical realism. But they are every bit as real. They open up a literal dimension between the signifier and signified, in which we experience a discrepancy between optical recognition and the recognition of the emotional events that makes us who and what we are.
Abstract Connections conference, Tate Modern, London, UK, 2010 © Copyright Mark Bartlett 2010