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Above the Fray at Winter Street Studio: Piyali Dasqupta

Every second Saturday of the month Houston’s local arts scene become abuzz with activity at 2101 Winter Street when Winter Street Studios open their doors to the public. The two-story, unassuming warehouse near downtown houses a collection of 75 art studios for more than 87 Houston artists. Winter Street Studios has gained a reputation for nurturing the talents of Houston’s art community since 2005 and was featured in the New York Times travel magazine in 2008. Such a large amount of artwork is bound to be diverse in scope and it doesn’t disappoint. The art ranges in price and you can find originals for as little as $100.

My mother-in-law and I happened upon one artist whose work enchanted us. This was the Houston transplant, printmaker, artist and textile designer, Piyali Dasqupta. Her work is informed by her Indian heritage and she has taken to visiting Kolkata (Calcutta) to work with weavers and textile makers to help her decorate exquisite silk scarves with her own handmade woodblock print designs. Walking into her workplace is like being transported into the mystical place of her birth in Allam, India. Her multilayered, tempera paintings feature what seem to be existential dreamscapes on rice paper and canvas. She mentions her compatriot, Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature as a major influence on her work and aesthetic.

The items that really stood out were the silk scarves which are artworks in their own right. They are each uniquely designed by Dasqupta and a team of artists in India on her annual visit. The colors are reminiscent of the vibrant saris of India; pinks the color of desert sunsets, cerulean blues and jade greens which feature printed stylized plant and animal motifs, paisley patterns and inked abstractions. I left with a cream and rust colored scarf courtesy of my lovely mother-in-law.

Maybe one doesn’t have to leave Houston after all for a venture to the arts from other parts of the world!