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Alakananda Mukerji

Professor

I am Alakananda Mukerji, and I grew up on the River Ganges.  I have long since left the narrow streets of Benaras where life is awash in a flood of color and a constant stream of souls.  Yet however so far I may find myself from those ancient riverbanks, my memory, my art, and indeed my very being -- these are forever caught up in the notion of endless, sacred flow.

People and faces, the surge of sounds, the unfathomably old commingling with the untarnishedly new -- all the rhythms and rhymes of India: this is the wellspring of who I am.  I flow from this source, but I have become the river -- changing, evolving, flowing.  And what flows from me, my painting, it is often a conversation between the me that was and the me that is becoming.  Memories, media, materials -- bits of canvas, pieces of the past -- anything I can get hold of: this is my art.  I am the medium.  I am the flow. 

The subtle tones of Europe, and the soaring spirit of America: these flow in me too, for in these places I was also educated, alongside rivers with strange-sounding names like the Aliákmonas, the Thames, and the Mississippi.  These are part of me now and I am part of them.  And I am changed, though my wellspring stays the same. For I am a river, and a river is process.  Art is process.  Life is process.

I work in watercolor.  I always found the free-flowing quality of watercolor interesting and ideal for experimentation.  At first I thought this was some personal reaction to my source, to my life in Benaras, where everyone and everything is close, where there does not always seem room enough to grow, and where family and friends, and India itself influence one's decisions.   I was foolish.  Sometimes we do not see what we have already understood. And sometimes we do not understand what we have already perceived.  Watercolor was not an escape.  Experimentation does not undo who I was.  Watercolor is my Ganges.  It is my endless, sacred flow.  It is who I was but also who I am and who I am becoming.  It is my medium.  It is me.  I am a river.  I am the flow.

And I am flowing.  My work that you see here today is where I have arrived after years of work.  But a river never simply arrives.  I am changing,  I am still becoming.  And we shall all see where the flow takes me next, or where I take myself, or where I allow myself to be taken, for it is all the same.

My name is Alakananda Mukerji, and I live in Manhattan, between the Hudson and the Harlem.  My name is Alakananda Mukerji and I grew up on the Ganges.  I am an artist.  I am a teacher.  I work in watercolor.  I am a river.