Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Curious New Banner!

The Curious Randonneur is at last fully dressed! You probably noticed the new banner atop this page. This is has been in the works for some time. I remember when I first started the blog, I Googled "Top Ten Tips for Bloggers" or some such and Tip #1 was to absolutely have a banner. Any bannerless blog was considered undressed and unworthy.

So I set off in search of a banner, but I wanted something unique. So I turned to our good family friend and artist: Aaliyah Gupta. Thanks, Aaliyah!! I know it turned into more of a project than first imagined, but I love it and am so grateful.

The photo at the top of this post is from Aaliyah's "Lichen" series. Here is how Aaliyah describes this recent series of hers:

This group of works, acrylic on duralar, builds on earlier themes. The “Cluster” series was inspired by the lichens I saw while traveling in Iceland. These lichens, while fragile and lightweight, survive in the most inhospitable of environments. Newer pieces that I am currently working on, and are not featured here yet, are about the intricate networks and environments of these amazingly complex organisms.

The pixelation of the photos does not do justice to the high level of detail and depth (due to the layerization).

Aaliyah is a celebrated fine artist who has exhibited in Portland, Seattle, New York, and Copenhagen. She has been commissioned to produce works for Kimball Elementary, Seattle; Callison & Sons, Seattle; Seattle Asian Art Museum, Seattle; Wing Luke Asian Museum, Seattle; University Hospital, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York.

To visit Aaliyah's personal website featuring more of her art, please check out this link!

In the case of my banner, this kind of graphic work is a recent departure for Aaliyah, and is inspired in part I believe by her take of my descriptions of randonneuring over the past few years. All I know is it was a labor of love by a true artist, and I am blessed to have my blog graced with her sensibilities. She was assisted with the technical aspects of integration into my blog by her husband, Vésteinn Þórsson. This blog html can be pretty funky and glitchy at times. I know they both had to fight their way through this.

Aaliyah and Vésteinn, along with their twins, are more than just close friends, they are part of our extended family. Thank you, all you VARKs, and Aaliyah especially, sister: I am deeply honored only!!!!

For a little more about Aailyah, here is an Artist's Statement I came across:

Over the years, my work has been rooted in the ideas of connection and interdependence, nurture and sustenance, microscosms and macrocosms. Most recently, natural disasters across the world have fueled my interest in the idea of dispersion, the movement of light, color and particulate matter. The dispersion of ash, smoke, clouds, wind, water have had a global impact on multiple levels, transforming entire geographies, economies and communities. On a more micro level, I have been exploring the themes of symbiosis and coexistence, looking at complex organisms like lichens that are made up of several organisms that exist in a symbiotic relationship known as mutualism. Surviving in the most inhospitable environments, these organisms are dependant on each other for their survival. I was born in Kolkata, India, and have lived, worked and exhibited in India, Denmark and the USA. I am deeply committed to social change work and actively involved in the movement to end violence against women, as well as in immigrant rights and civil liberties campaigns.

Those of us who know Aaliyah are acquainted with that firece activist side of her. Particularly we know her as the first Executive Director of Chaya, a community based nonprofit organization established in 1996 to serve South Asian women in times of crisis and need, and to raise awareness of domestic violence issues. She remains today one of the core movers of Chaya.

For more of Aaliyah's work in person, watch this Core Gallery website for an upcoming show this July in Seattle's Pioneer Square.

Keep it fiercely coexistent, with color and layers and movement,