“I find myself standing at an intersection of art, design and technology,” says Neeta Khanuja, an Ahmedabad-origin illustrator, movement artist and designer currently living in Pittsburgh. Based on the idea of abstraction and simplicity, her art reveals her fascination with black and white line compositions to present the complexities of human emotions with self and with others. At the core of her work is the idea of self, of re-discovering her own emotions and identity and seeing how it all fits together in the larger context of space and time.
In our conversation, she says, “My lined reality work consists of augmenting line formations on self-portraits as an enquiry into self-identity and self-concept as well as interactions of the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ within the dimensions of space and time. Along with self-portraits, this work is also inspired by the body shapes and forms from my practice in movement arts and contemporary dance.”
Where It All Began
Khanuja first became interested in the visual arts while studying at the National Institute of Design, India. “Interaction design opened my mind to creative coding and I could use the programming skills that I learned during my bachelor’s degree in engineering, to create work that helped me connect with my users and my audience,” she explains.
She then went on to study arts and design at Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany where she got inspired by the simplicity of forms and developed an inclination towards abstraction. It was during this time of trying to find her voice as a visual artist that she also started work on an interactive installation, of which ‘Lost in Place’ was a project that used the properties of fog to create an experience that could act as a trigger for conversations about dementia; leading the audience to an interface for further enquiry, contribution and participation for the cause.
A global student and artist through and through, she then went to Buffalo University in New York where she believes the exposure to art galleries and museums deeply influenced her art. Working in Inclusive Design Labs at Buffalo University in New York and OCAD University in Canada, she started to find meaning in inclusive design and that has had a great impact on her work as an interaction designer and as an artist.
Later moving to Bangalore to pursue a diploma in Movement Arts at the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, she is currently interested in overlaps of line expressions, movement arts and AI + social robots. Simultaneously she is also pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at Tecnico University in Portugal and Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University.
Khanuja’s Creative Process & Favourite Work
Of her creative process, she says it is, “...fairly simple. It delves in uncertainty and spontaneity,” further adding that, “Most of my explorations begin with a blank canvas and a blank thought process not knowing the emotion or the theme I am working with. I draw and then I verbalise it with an emotion. My movement art practice is also mainly based on improvisations and going with the flow. I opened some of my work to interpretations from the audience and it was fascinating to see how people connected with the piece assigning different meanings to it.”
When it comes to her favourite piece, she says, “My recent favourite is a piece called ‘Love’ and one of my favourites in the self-portraits series is ‘Find your form’.”
You can check out her work here.
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