India Evans is a NYC born and raised mixed media artist who is best known for her intimate and poetic collages. Evans was educated at Scuola d’Arte Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, Italy and Accademia di Belle Arti in Perugia, Italy. In 2000 Evans received a BFA from The American University. Evans work has been exhibited at galleries and museums worldwide including Sala Uno Gallery in Rome, Italy, Na Solynanke Gallery in Moscow, Russia, Fred Gallery in London, UK, Knoedler Gallery in NY, the Kratzen Museum in Washington, DC, the Islip Art Museum in NY and the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn, NY. Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The New York Sun, the NY Observer, Backstage,Time Out, Il Venerdi di Repubblica, Il Messaggero, Exhibart, The Paris Review and it was featured on R.A.I. TV. Between 2009 and 2013 Evans’ collages were projected on a scrim for the set of Dante’s Divina Commedia – Inferno (NY Fringe Festival, Prague Fringe Festival) and Oscar Wilde’s Salome (The Flea Theater). India Evans was included in the exhibition “The Devil’s House” at The Living Gallery Outpost, NYC October 2017, and can be seen at SCOPE art fair 2018.
DISINFO: Can you discuss the path you have walked to become the artist you are? Who were your inspirations and influences when you began your journey as an artists and what other artists have you discovered along the way?
INDIA EVANS : Being raised by two hippies one (my father) being an artist and the other (my mama) believing that having a life surrounded by art was important taught me so much but above all it taught me to go with the flow of life and to be ok in the uncertainty – that the universe has a safety net under me. Love was our religion. Meaning- imagination, compassion, happiness, creativity, gratitude, intuition and freedom were what mattered most.
I remember the few times my parents argued – my father would reassure my mom with -everything will be alright – “be here now” or “let’s make love Margaret, not war.” We would have daily family hugs, eat a home cooked meal (that my father shopped for and cooked) every evening together, have regular visits from their numerous artist/musician/poet friends, they were constantly taking us to museums, art galleries, they also had many parties. It seems every inch of our apartment was filled with art (either my father’s or friends that he bartered with and later my art), also art and rugs from my mother’s travels – hippy trail -half way around the world and from her family who moved to Africa (my grandfather was one of the founders of the peace corp in Nigeria) so African masks, sculptures etc. We rarely went to the doctor because my father raised us on holistic medicine, if we got sick he would give us herbs, homeopathy, reflexology and we were vegetarian for years. Watching my father every single day set aside time to make his daily collage – was almost like watching him meditate. Over 100,000 daily collages! This definitely Inspired me to believe that there is no limit to the power of imagination. All this love and culture balanced growing up in the east village during the 1980’s which at that time was not the trendy (boutiques, galleries and restaurants) place it is today.
I remember walking through Tompkins square park and seeing all the homeless with their tents and carts getting dressed or sleeping (it was like going through someone’s living room), seeing drug dealers, junkies oding on the side walk, punk rockers, street art-graffiti, bombed out buildings/crack buildings, breakdancers, street performers, musicians etc. there was always something to see or do. They took us on protests for gay rights, for women’s rights, for the environment etc something else that stood out in my upbringing was being in tune with my body. During my mother’s generation they burned their bras so we would walk around naked like it was the most natural thing. At an early age I remember my mother giving my twin sister and I the book “our bodies ourselves,” and I remember devouring those images of the female body and all it’s magic. My parents were very open about sex and taught us that sexuality is a sacred dance and sharing of the soul. From this upbringing I came to believe that the woman’s body is a true instrument of love and sexual energy is sacred like fire – powerful, primal and potent. Taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and that it is good to feel good. Taught me to own my power and to use it with integrity.
I realized early on that erotic energy is the ultimate creative force. My mother also told me about an ancient Tantric rite (yoni puja) in which the female body are worshiped. So this feminine knowing flowed through my art. Therefore in art school I did a lot of sculptures of the female figure. I studied 3semesters abroad in Florence and Perugia after I graduated I moved to Rome and lived there for 5 years. In Italy I was constantly inspired by the old masters- Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Caravaggio , Leonardo, Modigliani and Picabia to name a few of my favorites. Also the architecture was incredible – one could never be jaded walking by the pantheon. Collage artists that have inspired me were some of my father’s friends like Ray Johnson and Buster Cleveland, of the famous Joseph Cornel, Hannah Hoch, Max Ernst, Romare Bearden and Rauschenberg.
DISINFO: Why do you think there is a revival in interest in all things occult and esoteric in the arts?
Esotericism/Occultism has always been a part of society as it began in the early Middle Ages and permeated a wide spectrum of disciplines: philosophy, science, poetry, literature, religion and art. Throughout the last fifteen centuries figures such as Giordano Bruno, Newton, Marlowe, Tolstoy, Steiner and many others have believed in and worked on esotericism. Also the cultural phenomenon of the 1960’s and a decade or two later the new age movement were deeply infused with esoteric ideas. My upbringing was certainly pervaded by those views as my parents were hard core hippies. They even baptized my twin sister and I Sufis. So I’ve always been fascinated by esotericism, which by definition means “more within”. So anything that is mysterious, veiled, sacred and not easily identifiable intrigues me. A bit of darkness is a source of fascination for many people. Especially at a time like this where everything is, alas, in plain sight. Starting with the current political climate. Which is too ugly to look at. So depressingly clear. It’s not surprising that many people would rather avoid conversations on politics. They would rather embrace esotericism in all of its forms because it offers a different set of answers concerning the world, our life and why we are here. It gives them a chance to go more within themselves. To explore.
DISINFO: Do your position yourself as a shamanic presence within the culture?
I have met several shamans in my life. I have attended their ceremonies and experienced their healing energy. They are truly doctors. Perhaps I can say that I am a shaman to myself. That art has been the means through which I healed myself when I was hurt. Art in general helps all of us. Whether it helps us feel better or provokes us, it is there to communicate, to establish a connection between the artist and the viewer, and between different viewers. And since we are social beings communication has always a healing effect. So art per se has a real shamanic presence in our culture. My father always used to say that “Art saves lives.”