Paper copies of The New York Times often figure prominently in visual artist Shanti Grumbine‘s work. Blue plastic bags in which the Times is delivered are intricately folded and tacked together creating a two-dimensional sculpture, a work-in-progress on her studio floor. A newspaper is spread open on a small drafting table. Its center intricately collaged and cut to resemble a stained glass rose window – an ancient form of communication inserted into the dying format of print journalism.
Responding to traumatic world events during her residency, Shanti has created new work — memorials to recent bombings in Istanbul, Turkey and in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Painting hundreds of small wooden squares, she recreated the Times‘ crossword puzzles that appeared in the newspaper the same day the bombings were reported. She fills a single square with the country’s flag.
For Shanti, the crossword itself symbolizes the distance between people and events abroad. It’s a game, a reminder that we get to turn the page. The blank crossword also serves as an invitation to take part in the problem solving, asking the viewer to acknowledge specific violent events around the world despite physical distance. “By creating these memorials by hand, I generate a time-frame for my own reflection,” she says. “I think a lot of my work talks about that extreme distance between me and world events,” she explains. “I am confronting the fact that even though I’m looking, I can’t see it.”