India through the Lens

Local photographer displays images in Durango

Local artist, Barbara Grist stands in front of a print called “My Future is so Bright.” She named the photo for the women’s sunglasses that the man is wearing while walking in Jaipur, India where she visited during February and March this year Enlargephoto

Local artist, Barbara Grist stands in front of a print called “My Future is so Bright.” She named the photo for the women’s sunglasses that the man is wearing while walking in Jaipur, India where she visited during February and March this year

Barbara Grist taught art in Cortez at the middle and high school levels for 25 years before retiring in 2007 to focus on her art. Since her retirement, Grist has traveled and has captured breathtaking images all around the world. Her latest endeavor? A seven-month excursion to India where she snapped over 3,500 photos.

“It was most difficult to narrow down from all of the photos I took,” she says of the 16 prints on display at The Rochester Hotel in Durango.

Her gallery is called “Art and Soul,” the name she says, was from the idea that “art comes from within.”

The Art and Soul Gallery is in conjunction with another artist, Janet Knocke, and will be on display at The Rochester Hotel until June 30. After that, Grist’s breathtaking photography will move to Studio 100 in Dolores.

Grist’s photography highlights some of the “moments that speak to people,” from her seven month trip through India, where she met and interacted with people from The Elephant’s Festival in Jaipur, Mumbai, Undaipur, Fort Cochin (Featured in a recent episode of The Amazing Race) and Rajasthan, just to name a few.

The goal of her current exhibit is to give viewers “an understanding of the India” that she saw— “a lot of people and color and the vibrancy of an amazing culture,” Grist said.

“They just love to decorate everything,” Grist said about the Indian culture. “Their young children or themselves, even the elephants have ankle bracelets on and the camels have nose rings; just all kinds of decorations.”

During her seven months abroad in one of the most populous countries in the world, Grist was touched by India’s hospitality.

“I’ve met a lot of people in a lot of countries and these people, they would try to help you no matter what,” Grist said. “If they couldn’t find out or if they couldn’t understand you they would find someone else that could.”

“They would invite us into their homes,” Grist continued. “They were so happy to have their picture taken, they were just really nice and very selfless and peaceful.”

Grist said her recent travels have taught her “to see beauty in everything,” which tends to come in handy for an artist such like herself.

Grist said that India’s problems are present but must be overlooked. “See the beauty of the field workers in bare feet doing hard labor— they are just beautiful.”

Situating her in many of her lodgings during her seven month tour of India was US Servas, an organization that was started in 1948 to promote cultural understanding and peace in the world.

With enrollment in the program, Grist was able to stay with families of India in their homes, get to know their families’ neighborhoods and share a traditional meal. It was through this avenue that she met some of her photographys subjects.

A print titled “Meera,” in the Art and Soul gallery shows the smiling face of a very young Indian girl brightly adorned in a pink “Salwar Kameej,” a traditional dress often seen in Inida.

“She was a little girl just playing outside of her Grandfather’s Shop right outside of where I was staying,” Grist said.

“I emailed the place that we stayed after I returned to find out the name of the little girl,” Grist said. “I sent the picture and received the name; I’m sure she showed the photo to Meera and her grandfather.”

The Art and Soul Gallery illustrates many of the beautiful anecdotes that Grist experienced during her travels. Her interpretation of India gleams through each print which range from brightly colored elephants, to laborers in the city carrying on daily life.

“India taught me to be even more compassionate and giving to other people,” she said.

Reach Paige Blankenbuehler at paigeb@cortezjournal.com