Introducing betterArts Resident Kiran Chandra

Kiran Chandra.
BetterArts resident Kiran Chandra joins us from June 25 to July 13 to create a body of work investigating notions of time, place, communication, and dialogue.

"While at Better Farm I am interested in making drawings," Kiran told us, "and writing a text piece about swarm intelligence and non-verbal communication amongst humans. Inspired by a book by the South African naturalist Eugene Marais, who wrote about group behavior and intelligence amongst termites, the piece I am writing aims at making connections between his text and how human beings communicate and live in groups. I really believe the experience of living in a more communal environment such as at the farm, may allow for different ways for thinking about how I can write this piece."

In Marais' book, he came to understand termite colonies as sentient beings unto themselves. The Queen Bee becomes the colony's "nerve center," Kiran explained, "and termitaries capable of communicating telepathically within itself and other colonies. At Better Farm I would like to work on a text which lyrically links Marais' observations of termites behavior to human impulses of forming community, outside of the immediate nuclear family."

Kiran works with paper, water colors, India and colored inks, spoken word, and video. "I write original texts which become recorded audio pieces that are heard alongside drawings or 3-dimensional work," she said. "The sound, drawings and objects come together to create an effect, and often become an immersive environment for the viewer to enter. The materials are in dialogue together, connected by their physical materiality, but also the very structure of the language that informs the work." 

Kiran is very interested in storytelling; specifically, multiple points of telling tales and relating information such as is evidenced in oral, folkloric, mythological, and day-to-day narratives. "I am interested in language: textual and concrete. And I am particularly interested in that place where written language fails, and other forms persist: such as in the caves of Lascaux and Bhimbhetka, or that moment of encounter with a piece of pottery, ages old."

Kiran earned a bachelor's degree from St. Stephen's College at Delhi University in India before moving from Calcutta to Boston to earn a secondary bachelor's in fine art from the Art Institute of Boston. In 2013 she earned an MFA from Hunter College in Manhattan. She now lives in Brooklyn, where she is a teaching artist with various organizations throughout New York City; including the Brooklyn Arts Council, City Lore, Artistic Noise, Studio in aSchool, and the Sadie Nash Leadership Program for Young Women.

Kiran keeps a small, fire escape garden in her Buschwick apartment. "Every spring I give a stab at planting a few things I can eat," she told us, including, "potatoes, parsley, chives and a curry leaf tree. I have also attempted composting, with worms and all." She describes herself has having "a commitment to sustainable living in my own small way, and am open to learning any new skills to help maintain the life and community at Better Farm."

In addition to her art, Kiran has been active with chores around the farm, cooking for the people here, swimming, boating, running, and helping in the garden. A gallery exhibit and reading of Kiran's work will be held Friday, July 11, at 6 p.m. in the Art Barn.

The Art Barn is located at Better Farm, 31060 Cottage Hill Road, Redwood NY, 13679. For more information about the betterArts residency program, click here.
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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.