November 2020  Vol. 1, No.7

Priya Tambe’s Portal of Nature

What do you see when you look into the mandala?

Resilience #1
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
12”x12”x 2”

Blooming Botanical
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
36”x36”x 5”

The Westchester, New York, based artist, Priya Tambe, creates sculptures that combine three-dimensional paper construction with encaustic painting – hot beeswax with colored pigments added. Mostly spherical or circular, the symmetrical sculptures feature circles ringed with petal, feather or star-like extensions. Initially inspired by the famed New York industrial designer Irwing Harper’s work with paper, her unique objects are visual meditations, neutral-colored sculptures that exude ethereal, almost organic qualities and forms. Her brilliant design and craftsmanship create sculptures that are widely aesthetically appealing. It’s easy to envision a living creature or even a cosmic, celestial object when viewing her work. Interestingly, she avoids bright colors. No reds, yellows or greens. She limits herself to earth tones – greys, white, sand/beige and tan. Her pieces are delicate, light, and airy. Fragile, with an undeniable element of life, a tacit delusion that somehow, like a flower, the object has a natural life cycle. One can almost imagine its seeds being scattered by the wind.

Blooming Botanical

Encaustic, Paper, wood panel

36”x36”x 5”

Outburst
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
30”x30”x 3”

Priya Tambe Portrait 

Resilience #3
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
12”x12”x 2”

No matter what you see in her art, chances are you have never seen anything like it before. These mandala-type of sculptures evoke a spiritual essence, a portal to otherworldly dimensions, whether spiritual, emotional or physical. The artist states, “Nature speaks to me.” Indeed, Tambe’s sculptures exude naturalism. We see three dimensions in her work, in our known space-time perspective. Yet, we know that string-theory science predicts 10 dimensions, maybe more, that we cannot see. We know from Buddhist art that a mandala is, in fact, also multi-dimensional – symbolically an expression of the form and structure of the universe, of wisdom and impermanence, and the nature of enlightenment. Tambe’s works are reminiscent of mandalas, as much as they are physical – botanical and floral. Or, sea anemone marine creatures; or an exploding star in the vastness of the universe. Her abstract works are portals into your own boundlessly infinite imagination. Her informed aesthetic consciousness expresses pure joy. 

Tambe explained her process and the complexities of engagement with the arts and health:
“I go deep into things. As an introvert, I take my time and create with intense focus. I go for a particular look and work it until that is achieved. When finished, I feel a type of elation, when I got the look and the message I was looking for. Each time you look at the work, you see something different. My art is a reflection of the person who is looking at it. Abstract art lends itself to be interpreted by the imagination. I hope that the good vibrations draw you in, that the work has positive energy that helps others. It starts by helping me.”

Priya Tambe was born and raised in India. Her father’s job demanded that the family move all over the subcontinent. She has lived in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, each time having to adapt to a new culture and local dialects. Consequently, she is multi-lingual, speaking the local language in addition to Hindi and English. Her mother was an artist, an oil painter, and throughout her schooling, art was a constant in her life. In Delhi, she attended a progressive high school with a strong art program where she worked with clay and bronze, each humble, earthy materials with direct natural connection. She ended up studying

Economics and only secondarily art/sculpture as an undergraduate in Spokane, Washington. She took a Foreign Service graduate degree from the prestigious Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and ended up as an investment banker on Wall Street. Not a typical path for someone who is now a full-time artist.

Resilience #5
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
12”x12”x 2”

Resilience #2
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
12”x12”x 2”

Artist in Studio working on latest encaustic paper sculpture series

"When you make a connection with art, it is a deep connection with your inner self, and thus a connection with God, and a connection with everyone. This is the highest energy in yourself and the universe.”

She reports that the viewer’s reactions to her art often refer to meditation and serenity, a calming, peaceful feeling, a type of mystical spiritualism – perhaps as much for the artist creating the work as the viewer. Tambe says, “I get energized by people’s reaction. When you make a connection with art, it is a deep connection with your inner self, and thus a connection with God, and a connection with everyone. This is the highest energy in yourself and the universe.”

Resilience #1
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
12”x12”x 2”

Resilience #4
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
12”x12”x 2”

Mesmerizing Botanical
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
36”x36”x 5”

Like many artists, she knows that her art is a form of cathartic meditation. When asked why she is drawn to creating these mandala-type sculptures, she knew, ”They make me happy, like having a therapist.” 

She is presently applying to a Master of Art Therapy program because she understands the therapeutic, healing aspect of her work, the relationship between engagement with the creative arts and mental and spiritual health. Tambe is bound to pursue that direction while sustaining a career on commissions for her paper sculptures.

Marine Botanical
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
18”x18”x 3”

Outburst
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
30”x30”x 3”

What Lies Beneath
Multi-Media Installation: Encaustic, Paper, LED Lighting, Ocean Sounds
Link to video
  
4ft x 4ft x floor to ceiling

Marine Botanical
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
18”x18”x 3”

Resilience #4
Encaustic, Paper, wood panel
12”x12”x 2”

Frank Matheis
Writer. Photographer. Producer.


Contributing writer to the Hammond Museum, Frank Matheis, is a music, visual arts and culture writer and photographer. His latest project was the book ‘Sweet Bitter Blues’ co-written with National Heritage Fellow Phil Wiggins (University Press of Mississippi, 2020). His Hammond Museum column ‘In Other Words’ features member artists in all disciplines. He is also a contributing writer to ArtsWestchester, Living Blues magazine (Center for Southern Culture Studies) and thecountryblues.com.