This guide asks you to engage in a simple yet powerful exercise of working with repetition. Repetition is all around us: spiders weaving webs, birds chirping, ants building molehills, bees buzzing, flowers blooming, ducks peddling and more. Notice it in activities like weaving, braiding, swimming, beating drums, dancing, etc. It can be said that the world around us, with its multiple interdisciplinary dimensions is a fascinating outcome of “repetition’s secret ceremony.” You can also find it in Terry Adkins’s Infinity drawings (included in the exhibition Terry Adkins: Resounding) that he rendered for years beginning in 2003, one every morning and every evening, comparing his process to that of practicing a musical instrument, or an act of “retracing” a bygone action.
Walk along his path—a path through nature itself—doing this weeklong drawing activity that is mindful and fun. To start, I’ll ask you to go for a walk—in a garden, by the water, into the woods, or wherever you can spot some trees. Focus on one that catches your attention. Note the texture of the bark, shapes of the leaves and branches. Are there any flowers, seeds or fruits? Observe patterns. Go a step further and spot similar trees to one you observed earlier. Now look at other types of trees around you. Notice how the entire tree eco-system shares a similar path of growth. Soon the day turns to night and night gives way to another day. Seasons change. It’s when you closely observe several of these examples side by side that you start to get a sense of how nature takes a theme and runs with it—in infinite dimensions. Stay with this thought.
Before you begin your exercise using the directions below, I’d ask you to identify and collect your materials. Look carefully around your home and pantry, outside in the gardens, alley, and street. Surprise yourself with what you can find.
Gunjan Kumar is an artist who has spent the last 15 years traveling through rural parts of India and other countries in southeast Asia, observing age-old practices in art, visiting archaeological sites, prehistoric cave paintings and some of the oldest known schools of art. These experiences form the undertone of her art practice. Her works have been showcased at the Chicago Sculpture International Biennale, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, the Donnelley Foundation, Chicago; Governors State University, Illinois, Exhibit320, New Delhi among others. She is currently working on a collaborative project with American Pakistani artist that presents her responses to exploration of archaeological sites and artifacts in the Sindhu (Indus) watershed, a geographical region extending across northwest India and much of Pakistan. This project will premier at the South Asia Institute, Chicago in May 2021 before it travels to be showcased in New Delhi, India and Lahore, Pakistan in the later part of 2021.