Size: 20"W x 16"H x 0.75"D
Year Created: 2018
Ready to Hang
I grew interested in the relationships between people and their surroundings when I began to ride the metro and public bus periodically to attend a fellowship on Shakespearean plays in Washington D.C. While traveling, the differences between myself and the other riders, compared to the security and similarity of the settings at the school I left to get there, were intriguing. A desire to paint others who felt unique, either because of their isolation from their surroundings, their introspective expressions, or amusing actions developed. I focused on the relationship of the individuals with their surroundings and the voice of their body language and clothing. Generally, the subject is off, perceiving something else, and almost vulnerable from being unaware of his/her identity as a painting, subject to the judgments of an audience.
Additionally, influenced by the seminars I was attending at the Folger Shakespeare Library, I began to relate the people in public places I painted to Shakespearean characters because of similar facial expressions, or symbolism in their actions. For example, in Iago, you will find a man playing chess by himself at a Starbucks. Iago is a character from Shakespeare’s play Othello who essentially orchestrated the tale, taking actions to pit the characters against each other. The other characters fell into his traps as pawns on a chessboard. In the painting it is only this man and the artwork on the wall that are in color because Iago was the only one who exhibited thought and creativity in Othello.From these exercises of finding Shakespearean references around me, I came to realize that we all have the opportunity to make life as dramatic as the characters in his plays, if only we took the risk, venturing out to get acquainted with people from different social backgrounds than ourselves.
While creating the series, I kept in mind the work of the artist Edward Hopper. I admire the vividness and crispness of the color in Hopper’s paintings. His work also captures people in public places; his most famous piece entitled The Nighthawks explores the loneliness and impersonal nature of modern life by depicting a dearth of connection between four people in an American diner. Hopper’s solitary figures inspired me to try to capture the paradox of isolation amid a throng of people in places like the metro, destined to the same place, yet individually disconnected in a profound way.
I find this social paradigm more relevant in our time because of the penetration and prevalence of high-tech technology, ever more updated to fit with our bodies, and take more space in our minds. In its ability to immediately bring us what we think we want, I believe we lose a factor of spontaneity and opening up ourselves to the abundance of the universe existing at the moment.
Shreya Soni is an emerging artist with international roots that can be traced throughout her artwork. Shreya shares her love of her birthplace in India, and experiences around the world including Bahrain, the United States, Nicaragua, South Africa and Mozambique in the stories of her artwork. Shreya won the People's Choice Award from the Fairfax Art League three months in a row in 2014. In 2008, Shreya was a recipient of the Uphoff scholarship for her series on Shakespeare in Washington D.C., as well as winning Scholastic Gold Portfolio Award and a Congressional Medal. Eleven of her paintings are currently on display at Busboys and Poets Shirlington location in Arlington, Virginia. She also has artwork hanging at Sun & Moon Yoga Studio and Old Town Hall Gallery in Fairfax, Virginia and Pinnacle Offices in Bethesda, Maryland. Shreya was president of the Art Student's Society at the University of Virginia, mobilizing the student body for two showcases spanning performance arts and visual arts. Learn more about Shreya on her website shreyapaintsor follow her to see how she grows by clicking like on her page on Facebook: facebook.com/shreyapaints