Mountain View High School senior Maanasi Hingwe and her friends planned to work on an art installation last spring with award-winning artist Consuelo Jimenez, whose work has been featured in museums including the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
After the shelter-in place orders were enacted, in-person collaboration became impossible, so Hingwe and Jimenez met virtually via FaceTime.
Under the direction of Jimenez, Hingwe worked on preparing the canvas backdrop to Jimenez’s weaving. Hingwe taped, mixed colors, painted and used pastels working in sections on the 3-foot-by-26-foot canvas. Hingwe’s entire family contributed in one way or another, including her brother, father, mother and even grandmother, as flowers, leaves and animals were symbolically layered onto the backdrop. Three flowers were chosen to symbolize the flora – the lotus in pink, the moon flower in blue and the champa in yellow. Leaves of the holy bodhi tree, also known as Peepal, are faint skeletal impressions drifting across the river, and footprints of the Bengal tiger and elephant stitched in copper wire give a nod to the majestic beasts.
The divine chant of the “Ganga Strotram,” a prayer to the river goddess, looks like the foam of the water as it makes its way from the glaciers in the Himalayas to the Delta in the Bay of Bengal.
They worked together, long distance, until the weaving was arranged and attached to complete the picture of the life-giving river, which has seen many kingdoms rise and fall and is considered the holiest of all in India.
The artwork is a blend of the perspective of an American artist, an Indian immigrant and a teenager straddling both worlds.