Artist couple deviate in medium but not meaning

A City College student looks at a painting from Aaron Fine’s First Words Series, titled “Car,” which will run from Jan. 19 to Feb. 17 at the City Arts Gallery in the Visual Arts Building.

By Estela Fuentes
Contributing Writer

Ocean campus’ City Arts gallery opened its first show of the spring semester on Jan. 19, featuring two artists who work in different medias and methods to evoke a common theme.

At first look it may not be obvious amid the visual disparity that both artists were inspired by the concept of identity.

The artists are a married couple, Aaron Fine and Priya Kambli, both of whom are art professors at Truman University in Kirksville, Mo.

Fine’s “First Words Series” is composed of long sheets of white paper with pencil sketches. The sketches are colored in and/or shaded in with acrylic paint to resemble children’s book illustrations. Each piece has a word written backwards, printed with rubber stamps of individual letters.

The series is a set of about 20 flash cards, each one representing first words Fine’s son learned. In an artist statement he explains that words are sometimes considered useless, but that it would be very difficult to use only 20 words to describe yourself.

In Fine’s painted flash card titled “First Word House,” a sketch of a small mound at the top of the page is shaded green with branches in the background. It is surrounded by a moss-green ground that breaks down to a set of connected branches where a stream flows down and falls on the roof of a house.

The house is what first catches the eye. It is sketched out as a building made of blocks in all shapes and sizes. Each shape is a different color, resembling toy building blocks.

Kambli’s works are all inkjet printouts of photos but are more than simple portraits or snapshots. Her pieces are composed of digital photos and photo collages she has made with old family photos.

Kambli’s photos represent what she calls her “hybrid identity” — a mixture of her Indian culture and the culture she was exposed to when she moved to the United States.

From Kambli’s collection, “Muma and Me (Gold Earrings)” is the most striking. The piece is a set of three images combined into one. Unlike many traditional collages, each of the three images can stand on its own.

First is a black and white image of a young girl standing behind what looks like a sheet of white floral lace, so only her head and a few branches are visible at the top of the sheet.
Next for the eye to take in is a color photo depicting a pair of gold hoop earrings, sitting one on top of the other on a white background.

From the back of the collage comes the image of a woman with sheer white fabric wrapped around her head, draped over her shoulder and across her body.

The show will be at the City Arts gallery located in the Visual Arts building until Feb. 17. Gallery hours are Monday-Wednesday 12:30-4:30 p.m. and Thursday 12:30 – 3:30 p.m.