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Columbus Makes Art Presents Anita Maharjan on Weaving and Fiber Art

Jennifer Wray Jennifer Wray Columbus Makes Art Presents Anita Maharjan on Weaving and Fiber ArtFiber artist and CCAD grad Anita Maharjan works on a woven piece.
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Columbus College of Art & Design grad Anita Maharjan draws inspiration for her striking woven work from her cultural background and experiences as an immigrant. Several of Maharjan’s three-dimensional woven pieces are on view through Dec. 6 at ROY G BIV Gallery as part of CCAD Grads in the Galleries. The exhibition series, celebrating CCAD’s 140th anniversary, is on view this fall at more than a dozen art spaces around central Ohio. CCAD Writer Jennifer Wray recently caught up with Anita Maharjan for a Q&A on her fiber art and process.

Jennifer: Can you describe your practice?
Anita: I create installations that merge traditional Nepali weaving with contemporary Western materiality. The process is inspired by woven mats I learned to make growing up in Nepal. In my culture, weaving is mostly an uneducated women’s job. In contrast, as a fine artist, I weave mats with the same traditional techniques introducing the art, craft and labor of those unprivileged women. In Nepal, mats are woven with agricultural waste products. In my work, I integrate contemporary Western culture by weaving with modern waste products—plastic bags, bed sheets and paper.

Fiber art and artist Anita Maharjan.
Fiber artist Anita Maharjan.

Jennifer: Tell us about the work you have on view at ROY G BIV.
Anita: My work speaks about my multicultural experiences, which are shared by many who live between different cultures. When there is a shift between two cultures, the question “where do I belong?” becomes very important. I find myself in my native culture and in my adopted culture, yet at the same time it feels that my identity is in neither. My work expresses this by tying my native weaving technique with Western discarded materials to fill in the gap between two cultures and my sense of belonging.

Jennifer: You graduated from CCAD with a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2018. Are there any lessons from your time at CCAD that impact the work you do today?
Anita: CCAD helped me recognize the multidisciplinary aspects of my work as a weaver, a fiber artist and an installation artist. Before coming to CCAD, I considered myself a painter. During my first semester, I started making small, woven mat-like works. My mentors challenged me to elevate the work by breaking the rules of traditional weaving. My practice developed into large, interactive, three-dimensional works that broke from their functional origins and carried their own aesthetic value.

Jennifer: Can you describe your creative process?
Anita: In Nepal, weaving is done as a communal practice where women gather to weave and talk. I, however, weave by myself in the studio. I work sitting on the floor, watching old Bollywood movies that bring nostalgic memories of my childhood.

Artist Anita Maharjan doing fiber art
Artist Anita Maharjan weaving a piece.

Jennifer: What is the best thing about the Columbus arts scene right now?
Anita: Columbus brings artists together. Galleries and studios are growing and there are opportunities and resources to support both new and experienced artists in their practice.

Anita Maharjan and fellow CCAD alum Erica Rodney have work on view through Dec. 6, at ROY G BIV, 435 W. Rich St. in Franklinton. For more information, visit ccad.edu.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art and sharing information about exhibitions, performances, concerts and more at ColumbusMakesArt.com. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.

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