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Pankaj Panwar, left, and John Jicha.

Two practicing artists from two different cultures – India and the United States – came together to collaborate on a temporal experience of visual language. Now, the distinct result of those efforts is on display in the exhibition hall of the Robinson Building at Western Carolina University.

“Place – Hybrid Space” is a series of diptychs, which combines two images into one frame; a juxtaposition of surface space and atmospheric space, drawings positioned on photographs, for impressions of southeastern India.

The process began prior to the pandemic by Jon Jicha, professor emeritus in WCU’s School of Art and Design, and Pankaj Panwar, professor in the Department of Sculpture and Principal at Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, India.

“The exhibit formulates a way of thinking for a feeling of place, a sense of place and a sense of time in place. The large format prints reference memory and a manner of visual thinking,” Jicha said. “As we worked on this project from Pankaj’s residence in Santiniketan, where he graciously hosted me, we sorted through hundreds of drawings and photographs from our collective work. The most provocative development of this symbiotic workspace was the evolutionary process. Our photos, images of places in India, and our drawings seemed to foster a very reasonable discourse. A commonality emerged with some of the configurations. They matched in a curious way.

“The surprise was in the sharing of this intuitive vocabulary,” Jicha said. “Two images – a photo and a drawing – brought together become the story of a place and can actually give you the feeling of that place and the experience. There is tension. There are active relationships. And each frame becomes a place of unique and universal memory.”

Partial funding for the project was provided by grants from the WCU Chancellor’s Office and the N.C. Arts Council. “Place – Hybrid Space” is on display through May 28 and is free and open to the public with pandemic protocols in place for campus visitors. After the exhibition, the work will travel to Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, India.