Padma Rajendran

Home is a tended space, where the decorative beckons prosperity to flourish. I am engaged in the symbolism of “fruitfulness” within the home and how this blessing and burden has traditionally derived from the female body. Working with fibers conjures images and forms that are personal translations of shrine and monument.

Women are able to hold onto cultural elements of homeland much differently than children and men, how do immigrant women create and sustain their stories? I consider how I can honor these stories to bring them out of hiding. I am interested in the aftereffect of migration on interior life, rituals associated within the home and food culture, language and its loss, and the emergence of hopeful traditions in sustaining life and the spirit. The role of women and interior spaces are linked. I am curious about the unseen experiences and traces of labor that are lost to time and consumption. Textiles are essential to live. They protect our bodies, demarcate identity and social hierarchy, and provide emblematic comfort. I find abundance in reconstituting decorative folk art imagery and textile structure to retell contemporary stories going unseen.

Utilizing fabric of different hierarchies, I experiment with the clash and combination of patterning and structure. The composition and content indicate duality that centers around multi-facetted definitions of Other and universal heritage. Encoding cloth with these adornments, inks, symbols, and scenes is a way to honor these stories, traditions, and strains. My process starts with investigation of mark making and events. The translation of this imagery exists as drawing with soft materials. It is reminiscent of global approaches, especially of folk art and storytelling through textile. Using resist, dye, and assembling applique fabrics I create banners, floor drawings, and installation that embody a perpetual, global nomadism. Folk art objects are sometimes defined simply as “decorative” but communicate identity and transcend place. As either acquired souvenirs or honored heirlooms, they have an ability to travel beyond their existing geography to their origins and take the viewer along. My work addresses observations and contradictory understanding of home, homecoming, and homeland.

Padma was born in Malaysia. She received her MFA in Printmaking at Rhode Island School of Design. She teaches printmaking at SUNY Purchase. She has exhibited at Ortega y Gasset Projects (Brooklyn), High Tide Gallery (Philadelphia), Crystal Flowers Art Salon (New York), Field Projects (New York), Beers London (UK), the Wassaic Project (Wassaic, NY), Unpaved Gallery (Yucca Valley, CA), September Gallery (Hudson NY), BRIC Arts Media House (Brooklyn, NY), and Blackburn 20/20 (New York) . She has completed residencies at Ortega y Gasset Projects, the Studios at Mass MoCA, Women’s Studio Workshop, Ox-Bow, and Lower East Side Printshop. Her work has been featured in Art Maze Magazine, New American Paintings, Maake Magazine, and Chronogram Magazine.

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