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‘Golden Equinox’ — Solo show delves into IMAGINE’s unique street art style

Celina Colby
Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
‘Golden Equinox’ — Solo show delves into IMAGINE’s unique street art style
Sneha Shrestha demonstrates her air-ink technique. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARTIST

The Simmons University Trustman Art Gallery resides on the fourth floor of the Fenway institution’s historic central building. Currently, the walls of the federal-style exhibition hall are adorned with IMAGINE (aka Sneha Shrestha)’s unique fusion of Sanskrit scriptures and graffiti tagging. The floor-to-ceiling golden installation is part of Shrestha’s “Golden Equinox” solo exhibit on view at the gallery through April 17.

IMAGINE (aka Sneha Shrestha) at work. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARTIST

IMAGINE (aka Sneha Shrestha) at work. PHOTO: COURTESY OF ARTIST

“Golden Equinox” features a diverse set of works, including air-ink pieces on handmade Nepali paper, acrylic paintings on wood and canvas, and aerosol and acrylic blends. “Saya Patri” blends traditional art historical methods with Shrestha’s unique contemporary style in a triptych of acrylic-on-wood pieces that display her Sanskrit graffiti text in a semicircle. Here, the triptych format, associated in the Western art canon with religious images, is upended for a merging of cultural identities. Underneath the glowing yellow and orange text, transparent words float on a vibrant blue background.

Originally from Nepal, Shrestha is the first artist to combine Nepali letters with an American graffiti style. Though known for her street art, which can be seen in locations all over the greater Boston area — from Underground at Ink Block in the South End and Zone 3 at Western Avenue to Beyond Walls in Lynn — Shrestha’s practice extends well beyond the wall. She served as a Boston artist-in-residence, established Nepal’s first Children’s Art Museum and has a long history of work with Artists for Humanity. Education and activism are as crucial to her practice as her spray paint can.

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Shrestha holds a dual degree from Gettysburg College in globalization studies and studio art and a master’s degree from Harvard University. Her street art work was influenced by time spent with Boston’s own Rob “Problak” Gibbs working in the Artists for Humanity program. Gibbs’ experience in American graffiti inspired Shrestha to explore the medium in her own work. From there, it was a natural next step to incorporate her own cultural influences.

After extensive research and planning for site-specific works, Shrestha’s lettering is created through a combination of aerosol spray technique and acrylic hand painting. This process results in a dynamic, multi-dimensional style.

“Golden Equinox” provides a closer look into the famed street artist and the intimacies of her artistic process. There may only be 13 pieces in the show, but there are unending discoveries to be made in the depths of her colors and the ease of her brushstrokes.

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