Artists Talk with Linda Button and Shanthi Chandrasekar: Tuesday, October 5 from 6pm to 7pm (online)
Our Place in the Cosmos: Do You See Me? Artists Linda Button and Shanthi Chandrasekar will be joined by Natasha Bhagat and Dr. Santi KM Bhagat, founder and inspiration of Physician-Parent Caregivers and the Invisible Wave Movement: October 19th /5:30—6:30pm (in person & live-streamed).
At least 1 in 4 young adults live with a chronic condition, invisible and struggling. There are efforts underway to help young people emerge from the shadows. Dr. Bhagat and her daughter Natasha are warriors in these efforts and will share their story. The framework of perception drawn, painted, and visualized in the work of artists Linda Button and Shanthi Chandrasekar will provide another dimension to the discussion.
Artists, scientists, and philosophers think about the universe and the cosmos on multiple dimensions–as interior and exterior realities, spiritual planes, and scientific wonders. How we see ourselves in these worlds, how others perceive us, how we want to be seen, how we try to stay invisible—or on the contrary, how we call attention to ourselves, are starting points for this exhibit and related discussions.
The work of Bethesda MD artists Linda Button and Shanthi Chandrasekar speak to these questions in Strongin/Collection’s new exhibit, Bodies: Sections & Reflections. Gallery founder Robin Strongin explained, “A very special friend once told me she believes you come into this world alone and you leave this world alone. Thinking about her insights led me to rethink many big questions. This exhibit provides a visual framework for considering these universal truths.”
Shanthi Chandrasekar shared that “Combining scientific facts and theories with my wild imagination has been fruitful in creating artwork that questions our known reality and seeking to learn more about the unknown.” She went on to explain, “Linda and I have been studio mates for a few years now and enjoy discussing our work. We tend to find commonalities in our work even though our approaches, themes and styles are very different, and this show has brought out those common subtleties.” Linda Button’s work pushes the boundaries as she noted, “Real and imagined bodies are my artistic thing. I paint aliens and robots and neighbors. The latter, for the most part, have kind hearts, clear lungs, and penetrating vision.”
Please join us for several (in person and hybrid) events with the artists and learn about their artistic techniques, their philosophies, and their conversation with a physician and her daughter on these questions as they relate to young adults living with chronic health conditions—often hidden from the outside world, but very much the reality of their internal and external existence.
Linda Button: Artist Statement
My expat childhood in remote parts of Venezuela is a likely source of my fascination with the human figure as an art form. Where is everybody? What are they wearing? When can we go to Maracaibo again? Lots of solo play with 3-D and paper dolls, as well as the longing for surroundings other than tropical landscape, influenced my artistic preoccupation with bodies and architecture and human relationships. And, oh, those mannequins! I found a trip to New York City fifteen years ago to be galvanizing. On that visit, by no means my first, repeated sideways glances revealed—seemingly hiding in plain sight—an astonishing combination of ever varying buildings and bodies and all else emanating from the creations of the window-dresser. Fodder that matched long ago longings.
As a figurative artist, I portray the human form and its equivalents using various presentations:
- My oil-on-linen mannequins in their urban abodes celebrate these humanoid creatures that are made out of resin, linen, and even chicken wire—with or without heads, hair or facial features.
- My silhouette collages build on the need for conversation, if not other forms of reflection and social/sexual commentary between two or more bodies. The silhouettes for my oil collages are cut from the canvas of my learning-how-to-paint paintings.
- The three monotypes in this exhibit are from a series of sixteen that I made shortly after returning from a trip to Peru. The inspiration for the series was the massive stone sculpture of Saqsaywaman, a citadel on the outskirts of Cusco.
Linda Button: Bio
Zanesville, Ohio was Linda’s birthplace. Her family headed to California in a car her dad won in a lottery when she was not yet three. They then moved courtesy of Santa Fe Drilling Company to Venezuela, Peru, and Colombia. From small-town America, she became a third culture kid: born in one culture, raised in another, and therefore not entirely of either. There are lots of them in DC. Linda arrived at the nation’s capital in 1976 to work at the Library of Congress. After concluding that career, she created her own art curriculum and has been marking and painting ever since. Six years ago, she joined a studio suite in Bethesda (shared with Shanthi and two other artists) where she creates and displays her paintings and collages.
She took classes at the Art League School, the Washington Studio School, and the Yellow Barn. One self-imposed “class” was a trip to NYC to view the Alexander McQueen “Savage Beauty” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Classy, indeed. In April 2015, she avidly studied the “Fashioning the Body” exhibit at the Bard Graduate Center; that show, in particular, reinforced her interest in human silhouettes. Another influence–robots and aliens in lace and leather! –was the 2016 “Manus x Machina” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
She has been missing displays of dressed windows, an important source of inspiration. Ever on trend, we’ve all noticed that window dressers have adorned the mannequins that still stand with an important accessory: masks. March and July 2020 exhibits in which her work was to have been included were postponed and then cancelled. Recent exhibits were at these venues: Iona’s Richard & Lois England Gallery, Washington, DC; InSquare Art, Baltimore, MD; Arts Club of Washington, DC; Schlesinger Center, Fisher Art Gallery, Alexandria, VA; and Takoma Park Community Center, Takoma Park, MD.
Shanthi Chandrasekar: Artist Statement
Ever since I can remember, curiosity has been my driving force, leading me to ask questions about everything around me. This has led to my constant exploration of ideas and thoughts based on scientific and philosophical enquiry. Combining scientific facts and theories with my wild imagination has been fruitful in creating artwork that questions our known reality and seeking to learn more about the unknown.
Being the compulsive daydreamer that I am, I have always enjoyed imagining myself journeying through subatomic particles in quantum realms or floating through galaxies in the vast cosmos. Sometimes these imaginary voyages are much closer, within the cells of the brain or the various systems in the body. These fleeting thoughts and ideas tend to become the narrative for the work that I do. But then, on a more serious note, I make lists of questions that crop up during these fantastical mental journeys and start researching more about them, and eventually they find their way into my artwork.
My work in this exhibition is an exploration of the cosmos and our place in it. Cosmology is the study of the origin, the evolution, and the ultimate fate of the entire Universe, while Neuroscience is the study of the structure and function of the brain and the nervous system. I am amazed at how the tiny structures in the brain attempt to seek and comprehend the cosmos, from the tiniest quantum states to the mysteries of the Universe and everything in between.
Shanthi Chandrasekar: Bio
Shanthi Chandrasekar is a Maryland-based artist who has been drawing and painting since early childhood. Her interest in understanding different forms of visual media has led her to experiment with drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, and papermaking. She has also been trained in the traditional art forms of Kolam and Tanjore-style painting. While many of her works are influenced by her Indian heritage, her true inspiration comes from the mystery and majesty of the world around her, her muse lives where the scientific overlaps with the spiritual.
She has won the Individual Artist Award and grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, as well as the Maryland Traditions Master Apprentice Award to teach Kolam. Her artwork is in the DC Art Bank, Montgomery Public Art and other collections. Shanthi has exhibited her artwork and conducted workshops in several galleries and science institutions including Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Gandhi Memorial Center, and the Smithsonian. She designed the Kolam concept for the 2021 Kolam Project that involved community participation to install a 1950-tile Kolam in front of the Capitol Building in Washington DC. This project was also included in the 2021 Presidential Inauguration kick off.
Open by Appointment.
Strongin/Collection is located at 1631 Wisconsin Avenue NW. For more information, visit www.strongincollection.com.