Uma Singh
  The Gods in Glass merges two of my abiding interests: the gods as form and glass as a medium. The first presented itself as far back as 1955 when, as a girl, I encountered India's amazing sculpture tradition in Konark and the temples of Bhubaneswar. The second grew on me as I grew up in Calcutta, gazing at beautiful stained glass, in my school church and in many stately mansions. My fascination with coloured glass had actually started with a toy - a kaleidoscope - and turned into a serious pursuit after my exposure to exquisite stained glass in Europe during my travels abroad when I resolved to make it myself.

And I did, from 1982, holding several exhibitions of it after having battled lots of trials and errors. But a yearning for something more stirred in me: the desire to work with three-dimensional form without abandoning my romance with glass. That would mean trying out something rather new, something that hadn't been experimented with in quite the way I envisaged the complex technique this art would demand. But I was committed to the challenge. And thus did my two deep passions come together in this show, the gods and glass. Both magical in their spell.

The forms that I wished to reinvent in glass captivated me. The rhythm of the lines 
in Nataraj, the dynamic grace of Durga, the simplified geometry of the Ganesha image had to be expressed in a style that followed the naturalistic contours of the original sculpture while paring down details for expressive economy. Simultaneously, exploiting the transparency of the material to induce the play of light and its refraction through broken pieces was also on my mind. Hence, I wished to have both smooth surfaces and ruggedly textured ones. While a few abstract works have flow and finish, building up the images with glass layers creates a rippling tactility that invites light but cuts it up subtly as well.

But the show isn't only about traditional imagery reinvented through new material and a new technique. Nor is it about the immense commitment in terms of time and resources I invested in it. Nor about the ironic symbolism of transferring the gods from durable stone to brittle glass in an age of flawed and fallible icons. This is mainly about illuminating an allegiance - both emotional and intellectual - that I feel towards my roots, towards my creative identity. An identity scripted by a curious amalgam of heritage, technology and individual vision.

Uma Singh
August, 2013

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