Full disclosure audience: Vandana Jain was one of the first friends I made when I moved to NYC in the summer of 1999. We met only briefly through a mutual friend, and then she set up to explore India for many months and I became roommates with this mutual friend and Vandana's cat.
Back in our 20's, it seemed that everyone was an artist or was experimenting with art. The house I lived in in South Park Slope was filled with recent graduates from SUNY Purchase--a filmmaker, a video game designer, two photographers. I was someone who dabbled with documentary photography. My roommate and friend played around with mixed media sculptures. We were all into the idea of making.
What I find interesting is who, 15 years later, is still making art. Vandana is one of those people.
We reconnected last year when I was teaching Arts in NYC. Someone posted on Facebook a review of her show at Station Independent Projects. I didn't know much about her work, but I was intrigued. Her work spoke to our City Seminar I on consumer culture. I messaged her and asked if I could bring my Arts in NYC class to see her show and if she'd talk to them. She agreed.
We crowded into the small gallery and the students were taken by Vandana's work. She was articulate and kind. The students reported that this experiential component--our last one--had been their favorite. Meeting a real artist and listening to her talk about her process, her ideas, and her outcomes was so nice, they claimed. This is the reflection I wrote about our visit last year: http://readwriteteach.org/2013/02/12/visual-noise-visual-literacy/
When we started planning for artists-in-residence I immediately thought of Vandana. I wanted us to have at least one visual artist, and unlike a painter or a sculptor, I thought her work lent itself easily to the process of creation for the students. I was right (I love it when I'm right!).