Section from 'Forbidden', 2020
For Anna Sidana, creating art is not only about what the eye sees but about experiencing and conveying a multitude of feelings and emotions. An artist during her childhood, Sidana put down the paintbrush for most of her adult life until relatively recently when she started using her creativity as a way to escape the stresses of life and express herself without judgment.
After working in high-tech for 25+ years, I realized that I was de-sensitized to the impact of technology on our lives, from the way we interact with each other, to how we consume media and news. Greater forces of capitalism and digitization are tearing up our connective tissue, leaving us disturbed to the point where it seems that the very fabric of our society is coming undone. We have to step outside to experience nature, forgetting that we are nature itself.
My art practice is a desire to explore an emotional connection with complex family histories by coming to terms with my childhood and deciphering my Indian culture. As an immigrant, I have experienced displacement and contemplated my gender and identity, while belonging to multiple communities, and countries, simultaneously.
Searching for a connection, I stumbled upon childhood memories of playing in the cotton fields at our family farm in Rajasthan, India. However, I found that the subject of cotton was complicated by positive personal experiences juxtaposed against its exploitative history. My family experienced the cotton boom, the great depression, and colonial cotton slavery. Conceivably one of the first global commodities, cotton has played a significant role in the persecution of humanity, including the oppression and slavery of African Americans in the US.
Along with cotton, I leverage honey and pomegranates as metaphorical symbols from my childhood. Honeybees are essential to our existence, yet there is a danger when this ecosystem is disturbed, and honeycombs represent homes where many dangers lurk. The pomegranate, representing womanhood, eroticism, and seduction, provides the inspiration to address issues of puberty and womanhood, that were forbidden from view in my culture and continue to be, in many parts of the world today. I examine the many shades of life’s experiences through these symbols.
Oil on large-scale canvas is my preferred medium. Through gestural abstraction, I improvise a conceptual landscape, with a palette based on my Indian heritage and the organic habitat of the farmlands of Rajasthan. Additionally, recent experiments on paper have resulted in a percussion of metaphorical layers, creating a playful graphic fusion through watercolors, monoprint, and oil-based paints.