Exclusive Interview with NYC Artist Gauri Chopra!
“Art is my essential tool for sustaining a fulfilling life.“ - Gauri Chopra
Why Do You Make This Type of Art?
It all started with this one moment when I realized that “society” does not fit me. During my early years as an artist, maintaining my artistic values and originality was the single most challenging task in a city like Mumbai. This situation pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I spent many years traveling and interacting with the natural beauty in and around India, looking for an environment that would be conducive for creating.
In the process, I was able to communicate with natural shapes, new textures, beautiful colors and hues, that I couldn’t even think of recreating on paper, and yet, sadly the urgency to keep the environment clean was unfolding at every step in my journey. After years of interacting with and photographing different elements on land, I found myself speechless when I experienced the Indian ocean through my lens.
The yellow sun piercing through the dense blue Maldivian waters, the sound of my breath rising to the surface in the form of shiny silver bubbles, the slight crackling sound of the reef and the vast blue canvas to empty the mind, was an inspiring experience. No element had ever woken up all my five senses, in such a seamless fashion.
It was the perfect environment to plant the seed for my desire, to create more value through my art. In the search for creating more awareness of the artist within myself, in 2009 I graduated from the Brooks Institute of photography in Santa Barbara, with a bachelors in, industrial/scientific photography. In 2012, I quit my commercial photography job in New York and dedicated five years of my life to studying and capturing the wonders of our oceans and its inhabitants in the Indian ocean.
Have you won any awards in your field? In which galleries have you exhibited your work?
In addition to being published in online and in several Magazines, I have also won international photography awards like IPA, TIFA, LICC, in the the field of Architectural , Underwater and fine art photography. I have self published two books on itunes and I am currently exhibiting at the Monteserrat Contemporary art gallery in New York.
Who are the major players in the international arts industry that you have worked with?
For four years, I interned and assisted high-speed, commercial and art photographers in New York such as Richard Pierce, Shinichi Maruyama, Norimichi Inoguchi and Martin Waugh in Portland. During that time I had the opportunity to work for some of the leading brands in the industry such as Carlsberg, Kheils, Estee Lauder, and Speedo to name a few.
What Does Your Artwork Represent?
The urgency to create awareness about the coexistence of the symbiotic relationship between humans and our natural environment is the base coat for all my artwork.
Along with photography exhibits, I also create digital artworks and art edutainment products like apps and ebooks, in the hope to inspire the younger generation, to help build awareness about the benefits of a cleaner environment.
What motivates you?
The complicated process of simplifying the mind, to transfer the art from the brain onto a tangible medium, is very intriguing. The challenge to conceptualize, create and complete every project is a complicated process for an artist. Translating experiences, emotions, thoughts, and visions onto paper is an intense play of the mind, which often leads to incomplete and shelved artwork. Hence my motivation solely comes from a critical comparison of my past self, and where I am today with my creative process.
Even though I seek inspiration from several sources, most of my imagery is inspired by my journey through the perspective of, the Indian Vedic Science and modern science, that allows me to build a deeper connection and understanding with all of my subjects.
How Do You Make It?
Creating images underwater is very different from taking a photograph on land. The mind has to multitask with diving meters and camera gear, while also focusing on being suspended in water. Due to surge and currents, many times one is required to use a hook to help stay put in one place. Shooting underwater can be challenging, but the key to making good images is “patience.”
I wait for a certain level of interaction before I select my subject. Each species has its own home and language, and only a few like to interact. Understanding the species and their different languages take time and practice, but once there is some friendly energy around the selected location, I begin composing. In a sixty minute dive, on a calm day, I would probably hope for five good images.
This slow and interactive process of creating itself is the message “ let's take time to understand the ocean in our unique way because we need it as much as it needs us.”
What Does Your Art Mean to You?
My art is an expression of the transformation of my struggles into victories, that elevated my perspective and helped me find myself, during my journey over the years. “Art is my essential tool for sustaining a fulfilling life.”
What are you working on for 2019?
I am currently working on two exhibits for 2019.
Exhibiting February 2019 in New York, is inspired by the images photographed by the Hubble telescope, and Vedic text about how the galaxy exists inside us. I have created the night sky with all 12-star signs, using water, steam, and incense.
Exhibiting mid -2019 in Chicago is inspired by my personal experiences of romantic love. This exhibit expresses an intense comparison of love as we know it as a human species in society, and love as it is which naturally flows within us.
The exhibition aims to create awareness about the fact that love as an emotion has lost its importance in today's world ,and how we as a species can revive its true meaning, through a basic understanding of where we are at, within the spectrum of relationships, and what we are looking for in a relationship.
See past exhibits and artist work: