Rit Premnath, assistant professor of fine arts, creates sculptures that explore power and marginalized communities

Installation view of Sreshta Rit Premnath: Grave/Grove at Contemporary Art Center Cincinnati, 2021, Photo by Wes Battoclette

Rit Premnath, assistant professor of fine arts, creates sculptures that explore power and marginalized communities

Rit Premnath is a multidisciplinary artist in the true sense of the term. His daring sculptures have been the subject of solo and group exhibitions in galleries around the world, he has organized initiatives focusing on unrealized projects, he is the founding editor of Shiftera “discursive platform and serial that illuminates the intersection between contemporary art, politics, and philosophy”, and is also an educator, which includes his role as Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons.

Recently, Premnath launched a new show, “Grave/Grove” at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The gallery is filled with sculptures by Premnath that explore the various ways in which state power operates and influences people marginalized by police control, as well as the architecture of prisons and detention centers. The figure-like shapes relate to “hard metal structures that visualize the collision between a vulnerable body and a coercive force.”

“Last spring, I observed the wild urban plants growing through the cracks of the city,” Premnath said. “These plants designated as undesirable and called weeds flower and nevertheless persist in very hostile environments. They have become a metaphor for political marginalization, but also for persistence.

In addition to his exhibit at the MIT List, Premnath is also exploring similar ideas in an exhibit at the Cincinnati Center for Contemporary Art. The gallery’s exhibitions share the same name and aim to invoke the tensions between the cold, institutional power of control and the exuberant life that escapes its totalizing force. The exhibits also include text that resembles exit signs, which include word pairs such as “Insist/Exist”, “Wake/Wait”, and “Lean/Hold”, which provide conceptual anchors for viewers to extend the initial impressions they get from it. the carvings.

“I want the viewers first to feel something through my sculptures,” says Premnath. “There’s a rawness and immediacy to the materials I use – chain-link fences, emergency blankets and aluminum formwork resembling cardboard boxes, for example. I make my foam and plaster figures on site and their material dependence on the site is very palpable for this reason.

Throughout his time at Parsons, Premnath taught in the BFA and MFA Fine Arts programs, and served as Director of the BFA Fine Arts program. As an educator, he does not push his own interests on his students, but rather aims to help them discover what is important to them and develop a methodology for making art that is both meaningful and generative.

“I encourage students to explore the phenomenological and poetic capacities of materials in a playful, yet heartfelt and engaged way,” says Premnath. “Visual art has the ability to communicate complexity and often brings more questions than answers. I encourage students to explore ideas that are important to them and embrace the uncertainty that comes with introspection. These are ethics that guide my own practice, and I bring them to my teaching.

Premnath’s art practice explores a variety of themes and ideas related to pressing social issues, which align with Parsons’ mission and vision, and reflect other work by members of the Parsons community. Christophe El Badaoui, BBA Strategic Design and Management ’18, recently co-founded LVNDR Health to drive positive change in clinical outcomes and change perceptions around sexual health, while Petya Andreeva, Parsons ADHT An assistant professor of Asian art and design history, she recently received a UNESCO research fellowship for her work on nomadic pastoral populations of Eurasia during the 1400s.

Premnath spent the last few weeks at the American Academy in Rome as a Parsons Affiliate, working on new paintings and writing proposals for future projects, while preparing to teach an elective graduate course, Books and artist magazines this semester.

Hold/Fold 2, 2021 (detail)
Sreshta Rit Premnath
Cast, foam, foil, weeds, water bottle, IV tubing, and warp wire
120 x 150 x 42 in.
photo: Julia Featheringill