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Ancient art form on exhibit

Narrative Geometry, an art exhibit featuring the Warli art of Vaishali Mohite, opens today at the Jamestown Arts Center. The 28 painting exhibition was developed 15 years ago as part of the Art for Life Program of the North Dakota Council on the ...

Sally Jeppson, gallery manager of Jamestown Arts Center, looks at a Warli art painting she just installed Tuesday depicting a traditional Indian wedding. The work by Vaishali Mohite is one of 28 paintings on display as part of the Narrative Geometry exhibit. Tom LaVenture / The Sun
Sally Jeppson, gallery manager of Jamestown Arts Center, looks at a Warli art painting she just installed Tuesday depicting a traditional Indian wedding. The work by Vaishali Mohite is one of 28 paintings on display as part of the Narrative Geometry exhibit. Tom LaVenture / The Sun

Narrative Geometry, an art exhibit featuring the Warli art of Vaishali Mohite, opens today at the Jamestown Arts Center.

The 28 painting exhibition was developed 15 years ago as part of the Art for Life Program of the North Dakota Council on the Arts, said Sally Jeppson, Arts Center gallery manager and Narrative Geometry tour coordinator. The exhibition still includes the collaborative activity plan for elders, children and the public that was part of that program, she said.

"The Arts Center was a pilot site," Jeppson said. "I've been involved from the very start including the exhibit design, activity plans and their implementation."

Warli is a traditional art form of a tribe in the Maharashtra region of Western India dating back 10,000 years, Jeppson said. Mohite uses white paint on handmade red paper to recreate the style the ancient Warli people used to decorate the inside of their red mud huts.

Mohite, a social worker from India, learned the Warli art from her mother and connected with the North Dakota Council on the Arts while living in Fargo. The term narrative geometry comes from the Warli style of simple geometric shapes to create people, animals and objects, she said.

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"It's narrative in that the art tells a story about village life or the environment," Jeppson said.

It's a simple approach to painting that does not require formal training which makes it ideal for a community project, she said. At the same time a skilled artist or storyteller can create very intricate and detailed artwork, she said.

"I think it is an accessible style," Jeppson said.

The style is has been incorporated by fashion designers, interior designers, textiles and the Warli style can be found in everything from fonts, to bedspreads to murals, she said.

Residents of Ave Maria Village and students of St. John's Academy will see animals from the Wahpeton Zoo on May 15 to use as an experience for a Warli painting activity. Indian dancer Margreat Sam will perform at the June 13 Arts Market at Hansen Arts Park where there will be a Warli dome painting activity.

"There are lots of fun spinoffs that can be done with this exhibit," Jeppson said.

For more information, call the Arts Center at 251-2496 or visit www.jamestownarts.com .

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