Manjari Sharma

Artist in Residence March 2019

Manjari, on her Artist in Residence project:

“Heather and Rowan” from  The Shower Series  shot at Via Maria Villa.

“Heather and Rowan” from The Shower Series shot at Via Maria Villa.

“As a new transplant to NYC, The Shower Series became a really incredible portal of investigation that lead to a body of photographs I made between 2006-2009. The entire series was photographed in a tiny bathroom in Brooklyn that had a small, yet important window. This window let in some beautiful light and that light paved the way to my inspiration. This series brought me some critical nods and some early recognition, however, after 3 years, the lease on my Brooklyn apartment was up and I pressed a hard pause on creating any more shower work. I explored other ideas conceptually and created other bodies work all while secretly waiting for a perfect storm that would allow me to reopen this body work at some point. That perfect storm came wearing the name of The Squire Foundation. Ashley Hollister invited me to utilize her Executive Director Residency space and create more work on the shower series and that brings me to the scope of this project. 

Unlike Brooklyn, the space that this residency has provided for me is physically massive. In addition to the sheer volume in this house, the residency space is generously peppered with luminous rooms and various bodies of water. There are two showers, a pool and a bathtub book-ended with giant sun lit foyers that provide open and contemplative areas to undress, dress and dry. The theme of the shower series has always been reflection, vulnerability, and connection and the shower as a space allows for most subjects to come undone, not just physically but also emotionally. This means I walk away with incredible stories because the shower, simply put, has an intimacy that encourages people to share. As I have actively spent time in this house, I have expanded the scope of this series to photographing and capturing the human figure before, during and after the shower. The series will have some familiar traditional portraits, but it will also have bodies suspended, submerged, wading, and waiting (to dry) in various spaces. Besides creating video, photography and some screen prints of my subjects going through the motions, I am also recording their thoughts and our intimate conversations on audio. This audio will become an integral part of the complete installation for this series. I aim for the end result to mimic for our audience the experience of being in a fish bowl, surrounded by water and experiences of subjects in that water. Water is essential to the human experience, it's essential to the fabric of our being and it's essential to Santa Barbara. The audio you will hear and artwork you see will be reflective of a diverse group of opinionated locals, but the one thing that binds them all.... that in truth binds us all, is water.”