Buttons For Eyes

Priya Kambli

2017 - Ongoing

My artwork is intrinsically tied to my own family’s photographic legacy and my move at age 18, a few years after the death of my parents, from India to the United States. Before I emigrated, my sister and I split our photographic inheritance arbitrarily and irreparably in half. One portion remained with her, and the other was displaced along with me, here in America. For the past decade, this archive of family photographs has been my primary source material in creating bodies of work which explore the migrant narrative and experience; albeit through a personal lens. While my need to decipher and address my family photographs is personal, my work has always touched upon universal themes, with the potential to start a dialogue about cultural differences and universal similarities. In the last year those private references and broad themes have taken on a new public significance that requires a creative response, by delving deeper into my own immigrant narrative, engaging with its personal but increasingly, if accidentally, political context.

In my series, Buttons for Eyes, my concern for the past that is lost to me is still apparent, but so is my concern for the future and the losses that will come. Inevitably I too, and my experience as a migrant, will become mythologized by my children and then by their children. Making artwork about the past is my way of creating a first draft of the present.

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