How does one define home and what does it mean to belong? Viewers are invited to consider these questions and explore how environments shape personal narratives, family histories and constructions of the self in sugar bound, Suchitra Mattai’s latest solo exhibition on view at the Center for Visual Art at MSU Denver beginning August 30.
Born in Guyana and based in Denver, Mattai is an internationally recognized artist who was recently nominated for the prestigious United States Artist Fellowship and is slated to participate in an upcoming international biennial in 2019. Mattai has created all new work for this exhibition, her largest to date.
“Suchitra’s work has immediate draw due to her use of vibrant color, the way she mixes media, her play with symbolism and the dynamic energy throughout,” says Cecily Cullen, Director and Curator of CVA. “Beyond the visceral impact, there are many layers of meaning. Mattai takes the viewer to distant locales and time periods while simultaneously relating the far off to the here and now, imparting the weight of an intercontinental personal history and the larger implications of colonialism.”
Much of the work in sugar bound is informed by Mattai’s ancestors’ legacy of indentured servitude in the sugar fields of colonial Guyana and her own experience living in multiple countries and continents. “Connecting the dots between past and present, I seek to invent a sense of “home” – both mine and that of the indentured servant,” says Mattai. “Home becomes a conceptual space for belonging, and as an American, Caribbean, South Asian from Latin America, the processes of migration, assimilation and belonging are at the heart of my exploration.”
“sugar bound provides a profound experience for viewers to contemplate a troubling part of history that has parallels today in the way certain communities are exploited in the service of other people’s privilege,” says Cullen.
“Much of my work is rooted in landscape,” says Mattai, “The last three generations of my family lived on three separate continents. As a results, I connect with all of these diverse places.” In addition to crafting work that, “provides a space for all of these diverse landscapes to coexist,” Mattai’s diverse lineage is also reflected through her global approach to artmaking that includes installation, painting, fiber, drawing, collage, video and sculpture.
Mattai also works with cultural artifacts – fractured furniture, fraying needlepoint textiles and antique prints – and invests these objects with new meaning while also reflecting on colonial histories and her own childhood narrative.
sugar bound opens August 30 and continues through November 3. There will be an opening reception on August 30 from 6 - 8 pm with the artist in attendance. sugar bound is organized by the Center for Visual Art and is curated by Cecily Cullen, Director and Curator. The Center for Visual Art is located at 965 Santa Fe Drive in Denver, Colorado. The gallery is open 5 days a week and admission is free.
Suchitra Mattai lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Suchitra spent much of her life along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean from Guyana, South America to Nova Scotia, Canada to New Jersey and New York, USA. She received an MFA in Painting and Drawing and an MA in South Asian art, both from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Suchitra has exhibited her work in Philadelphia, New York City, Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Denver, Austin, Berlin and Wales and her work has appeared in various publications such as The Daily Serving (Mailee Hung), New American Paintings, and will be in a forthcoming book, A Collection of Contemporary Women’s Voices on Guyana (Grace Anezia Ali, Brill Press). She recently completed a two-year residency at RedLine Contemporary Art Center in Denver and was nominated in 2018 for a United States Artist Fellowship.