In this week’s edition of “Five Questions With …,” CAFE 541 sits down with Portland artist Avantika Bawa, associate professor of fine arts at Washington State University Vancouver, who is currently showing ”#FFFFF,” part of her “Scaffold Series,” at Springfield’s Ditch Projects gallery. Bawa’s utilitarian structures, appearing in Mumbai and the White Salt Desert in India and in Astoria lose their function to become strange, stark elements of what are often already strange, stark settings.
You have been a contemporary artist for many years. I’m curious what or who inspired you to follow the path of becoming a contemporary artist?
It just happened! I cannot pinpoint exactly when it started but working with drawing tools was always part of my life. I recall one day, when I snuck into my father’s office at age 6 and began to draw with staples. I wondered how many other non-art materials I could draw with. From there, my curiosity and explorations only grew. The inspirations have been many, ranging from an endless number of artists, filmmakers, musicians and friends to traveling to new and obscure places. The list is endless. We would need a longer interview for this!
As a contemporary artist, is there a tool or a material component that you couldn’t imagine going without? Why is this so integral to your work?
Yes and no. I like the challenge of landing in a site and working with the materials I find there. I embrace the “locally sourced” and “fabricated” materials and see how far I can go with just that.
Having said that, I do like a box of 2B pencils, a 12- to 16-inch straight edge and a mechanical sharpener that won’t suddenly die. That’s technically three tools, but I see them as related. I use a lot of graphite lines in my work, and I need my lines to be sharp and straight! Although ”#FFFFFF” does not use any of these, the aesthetic is still evident. You can observe a lot of sharp straight lines in the scaffolds and its shadows.