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This past summer, during an art exhibition in downtown Kitchener, my family and I discovered the work of Roshan James.
We loved her adventurous use of bold colours, and the way she incorporates abstraction and collage.
So, my family is excited to see James’ new exhibition, Organisme, which weaves together visual art pieces from four collections of her work.
When I caught up with James recently, she told me that the exhibition demonstrates the fluid, nonlinear nature of her artistic process.
“Everything I create is part of my overall stream of creative consciousness, and my collections have blurry edges so it’s actually hard sometimes to decide where one collection or body of work ends and the next one begins,” she said.
“It brings me joy when I’m piecing together ideas, words, phrases, feelings, bits of paper, and texture. I see all of it as fair game for fusion and connection, and it mimics the way life functions. We categorize for ease of reference, but most of us don’t live in tidy categories of style and definition of self.”
There’s a profound tactile quality to Roshan’s art that I enjoy — she combines paint with rice paper and wire and other materials to create unique mixed media installations.
For a while there, she confesses, she was “obsessed with combining charcoal from our bonfire pit with oil paint” because they are the “driest and wettest mediums, natural and manufactured,” for artmaking.
Her exhibition, Organisme, officially launches with an opening reception the evening of Nov. 25 at Neruda Arts Studio in St. Jacobs.
“‘Organisme’ is the French version of ‘organism,’ the simplest life form,” she said. “I chose French as the language for the title for a few reasons, I have French ancestry, my dad’s family is from an area of India that was colonized by France, and I loved learning French from elementary school through University.”
She added, “I wanted to show how everything is connected and through connection — which includes friction as well as magnetism, matter, and metaphysics balance and disproportion — we create and sustain life.”
She laughs that she has been “mad science-ing” in her garage, energized by the buzz of an upcoming show.
“It definitely gets the heart-rate going. Before an exhibition, I wonder how the art itself will feel as it sits in a new space outside of my studio and what energy it will give off.”
I can’t think of a more ideal setting for James’ exhibition than Neruda Arts Studio. It’s a beautiful sunlit space that founder Isabel Cisterna created as a place for diverse representation in local arts — an ideal that resonates strongly with James.
“As a Tibetan-Indian and the daughter of a Myanmar refugee living in the diaspora as a settler on Turtle Island, I am the product of migration and the intermingling of cultures and ethnicities,” she said.
“My curiosity in early humanity and life force stems from the intermingling in my DNA, and it drives my thirst for historical, literary, and arts research.”
I have been a visual artist and writer in this region for more than half my life. I’m always looking out for talented, original artists who bring new perspectives and talents to our community.
James is one of those artists who makes me excited to go out and see art again, and whose art makes me grateful for the opportunity to do so.
Marshall Ward is a freelance writer and artist. Check out his award-winning podcast at
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