Welcome to the Dusty Clay Diaries.

My name is Cynthia Siegel, and I’m currently writing this blog from Kolkata, West Bengal, India.

So what’s the fuss about? In the fall of 2011, I participated in an artist’s residency at Sanskriti Kendra in Delhi, India. Through the Sanskriti Foundation’s Museum of Terracotta, I was introduced to a vast diversity of traditional Indian techniques and processes in working with clay. I became extremely interested in the clay sculptural traditions in which the completed artworks are intentionally left unfired. Often these works are made collaboratively in conjunction with religious festivals, and at the ending ceremonies they are submerged into a nearby river. The sculptures are intended to commemorate the cyclicality of life, to promote healing, to absorb negative energies, and/or to refresh the family or village community life.

These traditions are different than anything I have experienced before, and as a contemporary figurative sculptor, I felt myself drawn to the ethereal, fragile nature of these sculptural processes, and to the idea that after completion, these works are honored, appreciated, and subsequently restored to the earth. There is an enormous amount of creative labor expended to create these works, combined with the expectation of the works’ impermanence.

I became so curious about this image-making process that I applied for, and received, the Fulbright-Nehru Award that is funding this fabulous opportunity to live in India, in which I can learn about the image-makers of West Bengal, as well as create my own artwork and become involved in Kolkata’s contemporary arts scene.

My adventures continue…..

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