Scissor cut paper, Acrylic Paint, 32” x 32”, 2022
A Little Light Helps a Lot
Scissor cut paper, Acrylic Paint, 36” x 36”, 2022
Today’s Bouquet, September 9th
Scissor cut paper, Acrylic Paint, 5” x 7”, 2022
For Me? Self Care in Dark Times
Scissor cut paper, Acrylic Paint, 12” x 16”, 2022
Scissor cut paper, Acrylic Paint, 34” x 34”, 2022
Like many of us these days, long-time Davis resident, Roma Devanbu, has been pondering the question of Self Care. Chronic stressors, from the pandemic, global warming and social inequity to personal and familial challenges of mental and physical health, deplete inner resources. We know we need to replenish the well, but wonder if self care is just selfish. Do we deserve Self Care? When we hit the bottom of the carton of Rocky Road, how and where do we dig for more appropriate and substantial nourishment? What is real Care? And who is the real Self?
The works in this show reflect a long and persistent personal desire to understand Self Care, including the ways in which the creative process can be an act of Self Care.
Roma Devanbu’s current work divides, primarily, into two cut paper series. Larger abstract pieces use pattern and color to convey the movement and mood of self care activities and themes. The cool blues and linear arabesques in her piece “Swim” energize and refresh, while the radial symmetry and warm pinks of “Sukha Sukkah” offer a visual safe space. Small triangles of bright yellow become keys to seeing order and form in a field of darkness another abstract work titled “A Little Light Helps A Lot”.
A group of smaller, cut paper, floral themed works, reflect one of Roma Devanbu’s most reliable creative Self Care activities - arranging flowers from her Davis garden. A few of the works in this group convey a sense of holding tight to hope in difficult times. But the majority of these smaller images, like the floral arranging that inspired them, offer a respite from daily concerns by inviting us to simply enjoy the play of symmetry and decorative elements.
Works by Roma’s daughters, Josephine Devanbu and Frankie Devanbu, both accomplished artists, have also been included in the show. How to care for the Self has been a long-term Devanbu theme. Family discussions contributed to both the rigor and the playfulness with which the topic has been explored. The inclusion adds breadth and depth to the show.
When the pandemic brought a major social practice art project to a halt, Josephine Devanbu longed to create but was tied in knots about what she could make that would matter. Then something strange happened: she picked up a bar of Ivory soap and started hacking at it.
Ubiquitous, satisfyingly yielding, and anything but archival, soap is the everywoman’s block of marble - and the perfect antidote to fine-art fantasies of import or permanence. Engaging in the pleasure and melodrama of creating impermanent form has been a rich site of self care, discovery and surrender for Josephine ever since. A number of these works are included in the show.
Frankie Devanbu's creative activities have always been key part of maintaining a sense of balance and wellbeing. Recently she has been working on an ABC book about emotions. Acknowledging and naming your feelings takes time and space not always extended to small humans. Frankie’s illustrations are beautifully conceived and playfully rendered images illustrating a wide array of feelings with intelligence and compassion. Gallery visitors will be delighted and touched by the printed versions of these digital images.
Community Participation: The Devanbus believe that the creative process itself can be deeply soul nurturing. With this in mind, gallery visitors are invited to participate in an act of Community Self Care, by adding color to Roma Devanbu’s 4’ x 10’ line drawing, “Expanding Self”. Crayons will be available in the gallery.
Second Saturday Reception: February 11th, 5 - 8 PM
Additional Self Care themed activities are being scheduled at Axis Gallery during the month of February. Check the Axis Gallery Website for more info.
Roma Devanbu earned a BFA at Carnegie-Mellon, a MFA from Pratt Institute and spent a year studying Asian Art History at the Maharashtra Sayajirao University of Baroda in India. She was a full time professor of fine art at Bergen Community College in New Jersey, before relocating with her husband and daughters, to Davis California in 1998. Devanbu is an exhibiting member artist at Axis Galley, and a Studio Resident at Verge Center for the Arts, Sacramento.
Website : romadevanbu.art
Josephine Devanbu is an artist eager to widen her view and field of play. She’s drawn to both art making and critique as fertile grounds for collective self-discovery. Her work has been discussed in Hyperallergic, The Paris Review, and Laura Raicovich's recent book "Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest." After running Look at Art. Get Paid. with Maia Chao for several years, she’s recently downsized to carving soap.
Find her: @y0ur_service on instagram.
Frankie Devanbu received a degree in Engineering with a focus on Human Centered Design from Olin College. She currently lives in Washington D.C where she is a civil servant, working at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. She has been an avid maker of things since childhood and shows no sign of slowing down.