I was trained as a painter. For years I had been working non-stop in my studio, making abstract, subtle, organic paintings. Eventually I began to feel saturated, and realized that painting no longer challenged me. In the spring of 2009, I decided to move toward making three-dimensional artwork.
I experimented with different mediums such as wax, acrylic polymer and natural materials like snow and soil, some succeeding and some failing. After settling on acrylic polymer, I worked with it for six months and developed a body of work. Only then did I discover that that substance is a ''mildly toxic'' material. I had to make a difficult choice on how to proceed. I made a conscious decision to work with non-toxic natural substances, and turned to handmade Japanese paper—a flexible, natural material. This was a logical next step; I had used Japanese paper in my paintings before, and now I had fresh perspectives that allowed me to connect visually and mentally with its possibilities.
Having no formal training in sculpture, I began experimenting with tools in my studio. One thing led to another. The “plucking” technique evolved from my tweaking the paper with a single pushpin to separate its fibers. The plucked paper resembled lace, which I then used to make individual sculptures and installations. Through this technique I learned from the material itself, and I developed a distinctive approach to three-dimensional objects and space.
Plucking is a slow and repetitive process that demands intense discipline, time and patience. It’s been over four years since I first started plucking paper, but the effort has paid off. I have shown the time-intesive artworks created with this technique at the N'Namdi Contemporary Gallery in Miami (view gallery tour).
And the experimentation continues. Also in that exhibition is a large-scale soil mount piece created with water, dirt and months of labor. While I am still exploring the possibilities of my plucking technique, I am also ready to juxtapose it onto new materials—stone, wood—to continue creating a dialogue between the known and the unknown.
Originally from India, artist Neha Vedpathak has been a resident artist at Skopelos Foundation for the Arts, Greece, Bharat Bhavan Graphic Studio, India, Spiro Arts, Utah, the prestigious Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass, Colorado and at CAMAC, France. Vedpathak has had featured exhibitions in the Czech Republic, India, United States, Canada, France and Greece. Vedpathak's sensitive and inventive approach to materials have lead her find a distinct voice through her practice. She currently maintains a studio in the north side of Chicago.
Neha Vedpathak and N'Namdi Contemporary Gallery, Miami