Art League Houston (ALH) is proud to present Entangled, an exhibition of recent work by interdisciplinary, Houston based Artist, Preetika Rajgariah. In this exhibition, Rajgariah visually examines the relationship between identity and global capitalism as seen in her studies of beauty standards and the socio-consumerist practices that are prevalent in this storied history.
Rajgariah states, “Nationwide, the ideal standard for acceptable or “good hair” most closely resembles that of caucasian people, i.e. it is manageable, straight, smooth, and non-kinky. My interests lie in the participation of these European beauty standards by people of color across the world. From Hollywood entertainers to the black community, women spend thousands of dollars on hair extensions and weave in order to achieve beauty and success. What is often not discussed is the fact that some of the highest quality hair comes from the South Asian region. Temples in southern India take hair donated as religious offering and sell it to the western world for the production of weave products. In turn, the American economy capitalizes off of all brown and black bodies involved. Capitalism erases the “human-ness” of the bodies, which is what I would like to stop and consider.”
Rajgariah’s exhibition and installation directly examine these practices and entangled relationships. Through screen printing techniques, she has designed and created checkbook size boxes that also, through size and shape, resemble bricks of gold. These boxes are adorned with text that reads “Gold Standard,” “Beauty Supply,” and “Hair Supplement” – thus literally emphasizing the idea of beauty products and hair as consumerist currency. Each box is filled with a braided lock of human hair, reminding viewers of the history and individuals impacted by this practice. The installation will include hundreds of these boxes, as well as other recent works addressing the exhibition theme.
“This is a difficult subject matter that presents questions of agency, value systems, and global capitalism. My hope is to create a platform for productive conversation surrounding this intertwined relationship that ties together eastern and western worlds,” states Rajgariah, “which in turn forces a relationship between black and brown bodies that is otherwise not encouraged.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Preetika Rajgariah is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Houston, Texas. Born in New Delhi, India, she received her MFA in Painting and Sculpture from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, IL (2018), and her BFA in Art from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX (2008). Rajgariah is a recipient of numerous awards, including residencies at Oxbow School of Art, Saugatuck, MI (2018); ACRE, Steuben, WI (2018), the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT (2014); and the School of Visual Arts Painting Residency, New York, NY (2010). Her work was published in New American Paintings, no. 102, Western Issue (2012). Exhibitions include features at Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX (solo, 2019); Roots & Culture, Chicago, IL (two person, 2018); Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL (group, 2017); Fort Gondo, St Louis, MO (group, 2016); and Art League Houston (solo Hallway Gallery exhibition, 2015).
Artist Talk, Saturday, September 7, 2019: 6:45 PM I Front Gallery