Kamla Kakaria: Endlessly swirling pattern

Kamla Kakaria
“Paisley Fish”
October 2nd – 25th

Kamla.showpic.575Paisley, an ancient pattern generally agreed to have originated in Persia, has been appropriated as a decorative motif by many cultures over the centuries, including the Hindu culture of Kamla Kakaria’s youth.

Paisley Fish came to Kamla as she relaxed by the outdoor pool her boyfriend converted into a pond for hundreds of goldfish. She and Brian Doll enjoyed watching the fish swirling endlessly in the murky waters while they both recovered from surgeries last summer.

After a while, Kamla began to see the fish swimming in her head.

“I started to see their movements in my waking thoughts and in my dreams. They would appear to me sometimes as a pattern of paisley shapes. I grew up in an Indian household surrounded by patterns—the walls were covered with batiks, paintings, and miniatures,” she said.

I’m really interested in working in multiples that together create larger forms, and in combining these to make organic patterns in the way that nature flows”

The fish shapes Kamla created in the two series in her show—one of paintings on paper and the other of waxed fish forms in relief—are expressive of her continuing focus on repetitive organic shapes, patterning, and decorative elements in her work.

“I’m really interested in working in multiples that together create larger forms, and in combining these to make organic patterns in the way that nature flows,” she said. “And my way of working with patterns is not the obvious or the first way anyone would think of because it’s organic, not geometric, patterning.”

As it happens, Kamla and her colleague Larry Calkins will teach a workshop on exploring pattern and repetition at Pratt Fine Arts Center October 11 and 12.

Kamla is the Painting, Drawing, and Printmaking studio manager at Pratt, where she’s worked for the past 13 years. Since earning her MFA in Printmaking at the University of Washington in 2000, she has taught widely in the area and has been continuously involved in Seattle’s arts community. Currently, she’s a board member at Seattle Print Arts.

In a commemorative way, Kamla’s show honors her long working relationship with the late Larry Sommers, the much admired print shop technician at the UW up until his death in 2009. Kamla used some of his decorative papers, which she inherited, to make her paisley fish.

I don’t have a hundred ideas, I have one,” she said. “I like to work with one idea and do everything I can with the idea until I exhaust it. Only then can I move on to another project.”

You could say that Kamla’s way of working quickly and spontaneously, in various mediums, is as organic as the patterns she creates. “I’ve always worked really quickly, but decisively—kind of in that way of fixing a mark as soon as you make it,” she said. “After making a mark I have to respond to it and so on until the piece is finished.”

Although she works quickly, Kamla is thoughtful. “I don’t have a hundred ideas, I have one,” she said. “I like to work with one idea and do everything I can with the idea until I exhaust it. Only then can I move on to another project.”