“Across the Threshold of India” portrays one of India’s and the world’s longest and least-known religious practices — the art of sanctifying space through the creation of threshold diagrams. The threshold is a profoundly important concept that represents a passage between one space and place and another, creating a visual bridge between the secular and the sacred.
Accordingly, the literal threshold a person crosses when entering and exiting a home or business symbolizes the threshold one crosses between the physical and spiritual realms of existence.
Martha A. Strawn was born in Washington, DC, in 1945, she grew up in Lake Wales, Florida, and now resides along the Santa Fe River near High Springs, Florida. Strawn is Professor Emerita of Art at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, where she established the Time Arts program in photography, video, and digital imaging. Strawn co-founded Charlotte’s The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film. She has also served on other national arts and land/water conservation boards.
Throughout her career, Strawn has been recognized for combining aesthetic and scientific interests in visual expressions of the spaces and places that surround us. She coined the term visual ecology in reference to her approach to the importance of geography and a sense of place in her photographic work. She works in silver, chromogenic, and digital photographic media. Strawn’s photographs have been exhibited and collected internationally in museums of science and art, including Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Indira Gandhi International Centre for Art, Museum of Florida Artists, National Geographic Society Museum, Princeton Art Museum, San Diego Museum of Natural History, Science Museum of Minnesota, Smithsonian Institution, and Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art.
Click here to learn more about and buy Martha Strawn’s important and strikingly beautiful book about the sacred Hindu practice of threshold drawing. This book will also be available in the Appleton Store during the exhibition.
(pictured) “Mickey Mouse,” a representational diagram made for the Pongal festival in a village near Madurai, Tamil Nadu, 1998.
“Light Shaft,” in a passageway in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, 1986.