Tag: Neha Puri Dhir

art + identity: Who’s New? Neha Puri Dhir and Nnenna Okore

Zazen, Neha Puri Dhir, resist dye, silk,, 41” x 41”, 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We are excited to be including four artists new to browngrotta arts in art + identity: an international view. They include Neha Puri Dhir of India and Nnenna Okore who grew up and studied in Nigeria and now lives in the US.


Neha Puri Dhir‘s textile study has also been broad-based, including time at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India, studies in Italy, Latvia, the UK and a workshop with Americans Yoshiko Wada and Jack Larsen. Dhir has intentionally explored a variety of textile techniques, developing a particular appreciation for shibori and stitch resist. “More than the means,” she told Hand/Eye magazine, “It is the story that fascinates me. It is enchanting to know the origin of these age-old Japanese techniques. Unconsciously, and interestingly, similar resist-dyeing techniques were taking birth in various corners of the world — bandhini in India and adire from Nigeria. These traditional crafts were changing hands from one generation to another and unknowingly developing a pedagogy.”

A closer look at Dhir’s Zazen

Dhir has experimented with this meticulous and labor-intensive technique, sourcing her fabrics from various parts of India and using machine stitch instead of hand to achieve something not otherwise possible. Dhir’s design philosophy has been influenced by the Japanese aesthetic wabi-sari, centred on the acceptance of impermanence and imperfection. 

Ashioke, Nnenna Okore, burlap, ceramic, 28” x 35” x 4”, 2007


Born in Australia and raised in Nigeria, Nnenna Okore has received international acclaim for her richly textured abstract sculptures and installations. Her breathtaking works explore the fragility and ephemerality of terrestrial existence. Her highly tactile sculptures respond to the rhythms and contours of everyday life, combining reductive methods of shredding, fraying, twisting and teasing with constructive processes of tying, weaving, stitching and dyeing. Also, informing her aesthetics are familiar sounds of sweeping, chopping, talking and washing, processes that reflect the transience of human labor and its inevitable mark on the material world.

“…My processes of fraying, tearing, teasing, weaving, dyeing, waxing, accumulating and sewing allow me to interweave and synthesize the distinct properties of materials,…[M]uch like impermanent earthly attributes, my organic and twisted structures mimic the dazzling intricacies of fabric, trees, barks, topography and architecture. All my processes are adapted or inspired by traditional women’s practice, the African environment, third-world economies and recycled waste.”

Details in Okore’s Ashioke


Okore is a Professor of Art at Chicago’s North Park University, where she chairs the Art department and teaches courses in Art Theory and Sculptural Practices. She earned her B.A degree in Painting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (First Class Honors) in 1999, and subsequently received her MA and MFA at the University of Iowa, in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Okore spent a year as an apprentice in El Anatsui’s studio in Nigeria.

The opening of art + identity: an international view is at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897, Saturday, April 27th from 1 pm to 6 pm. Sunday the 28th through Sunday May 5th, the exhibition hours are 10 am to 5 pm. For the complete list of the more than 50 artists who are participating, visit our calendar page HERE.


Artists on Anni Albers’ Enduring Influence

10 Lines 11 Lines 17 Lines 25 Squares, Kay Sekimachi, 6” x 6” each linen, polyester warp, permanent marker, 2017

As we noted in our last two blog posts, Anni Albers has been a profound influence for artists worldwide. Albers’ ability to combine the ancient craft of hand weaving with the language of modern art, finding within the two a multitude of ways to express modern life, led her to inspire numerous artists, from browngrotta arts, including Sue Lawty who wrote about her Albers’ influence on arttextstyle last week.

Fellow weaver and fiber artist Kay Sekimachi loved both Albers’ work and writings. When discussing Albers’ weaving method Sekimachi quoted Albers’ admonition, “You just have to listen to the threads,” adding, “that’s what keeps me going.” Sekimachi says that Albers’ book On Designing has served as her weaving “bible.”

Neha Puri Dhir

Neha Puri Dhir, an India-based textile artist, whose captivating geometric-based work will be featured in our upcoming Art in the Barn exhibition, Art + Identity: an international view, has also been influenced by Albers. “I have always found Anni’s work as a modernist textile artist revolutionary. Her work has a visual language of simple and direct compositions which has deeply influenced my art practice.” Dhir believes the way in which she expresses interactions of colors and forms as simple compositions in her own work has been unconsciously inspired by Albers. Dhir has embodied Albers’ step-by-step approach to exploration, making that the underlying sensibility of her art practice.

Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila at the Albers Foundation

Mariá Dávila and Eduardo Portillo have approached Anni Albers’ legacy with intention. In late 2018, the couple spent a month at the Josef and Anni Albers’ Foundation in Bethany, Connecticut. The Foundation maintains two residential studios for visiting artists who exemplify the seriousness of purpose that characterized both Anni and Josef Albers. The residencies are designed to provide time, space, and solitude, with the benefit of access to the Foundation’s archives and library. The couple wrote to us a few times during their stay.Today we were at the Albers archive, we found the notes for the Annie’s book On Weaving and were very near to some of her works — a special day. Now our days are very intense, daytime for the Library, nighttime for the Studio. During these days we have been devoted almost completely to study Josef’s and Anni’s work and thoughts. It has been very helpful in understanding our own process. We are not working on the loom now, you will find us surrounded by books and  draft papers.”

When we visited them in Bethany in December, they told us:”The silence and the beauty here is a gift. Our lives at home are so busy and so intense that it is hard to focus and think about our work and its direction. Here, we are living an almost monastic life, studying and thinking nearly full-time spurred by the example of the Albers who were remarkably prolific.”

New Nebula, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila , silk, alpaca, moriche palm fiber dyed with Indigo, rumex spp, onion, eucalyptus, acid dyes, copper and metallic yarns, 74” x 49.25”, 2017


“The Foundation has thousands of works, which they are cataloging. Anni’s loom is here, but we did not come here to
weave, but to think and study. We are very interested in her pictorial works — where she tried to embody something tangible, like the sun or a landscape, metaphorically, in a weaving.”

“This place is unique, educating, mutating, extraordinary — so many adjectives you could choose. Anni opened the door for people to think about textiles differently. Now, with the Tate exhibition, she will open doors again.”

And on reflection, when the residency was nearly over: “Just a sentence, a few of her words, has been enough to enlighten our path. Her clear vision on how a weave is created allows us to transit with confidence to experimentation through the threads and the interchange that exists between ideas and materials. Revisiting her work makes us witnesses to her legacy.”