Patel's ceramic works please the senses Sanket Patel inspects one of his ceramic works at the beginning of a reception introducing his unique art to the Vermillion community at the Main Street Gallery July 13. by David Lias Sanket Patel has brought more than his personal belongings with him when he immigrated to the United States from India nearly a year ago.
He brought his talent and imagination, too.
The result: people in the Vermillion area don't have to travel halfway around the world to get a taste of his homeland's culture.
They merely have to stop by The Main Street Gallery, 2 East Main Street, and view Patel's wide range of ceramic works, all inspired, to some extent, by his homeland.
"I grew up in west India, and I've been in the United States for about 11 months," he said. "My parents have been here longer; they've lived in the United States for about five years."
Patel, who now lives in Vermillion, has been sculpting for approximately 13 years.
"I have an education in fine arts, and have a master of fine arts degree � that was a seven- years-long course," he said.
The works that he introduced to Vermillion citizens July 16 were completed in approximately a three month period while he continued his studies at USD.
"The only works I have here (at the gallery) are what I've done here," he said. "There's nothing that I've carried from India � except for the memories, which is very evident."
The Main Street Gallery is filled with a variety of Patel's work: finely crafted, long-legged ceramic birds, ornately decorated urns, and several different versions of oil-burning lamps.
"I just let myself loose when I'm working," he said. "I don't think particularly that since I'm from India, it has to represent that place. It's just something I did, and it happened as I was working."
The motifs and patterns etched into his urns aren't copied from similar objects in his homeland. His inspiration for that comes from the ornately decorated clothing and textiles in India.
"Also, there's a way of beautifying your own body," he said. "You have permanent tattoos here in America, but in India we have temporary tattoos, and those motifs are also very popular in India."
His urns also duplicate the shapes of such vessels dating back to ancient times in his homeland.
Urns played an important role in India's rich history, helping to store and preserve spices and other foods for long periods of time.
"These were things that people used ages back," Patel said. "Now, India is getting so modern that you have people using Corelle¨. It's a most popular thing today."
Patel designed his urns to be not only beautiful, but functional. The pieces can be used for storage.
"Each one is fully washable," he said.
Patel can't put an estimate on the number of man-hours he has invested in his current ceramic display.
It was a labor of love. He never really kept track of how much personal time he set aside while creating his art.
People who his opening reception, however, could plainly see that the young man used combination of skill, creativity, and hard work to complete an impressive body of work.
"I really worked at them at length," he said. "I used to sit from morning at 8 o'clock to 12 o'clock at night. My professor at the college and people who visited the department would be surprised to see me in the morning and find me in the same spot in the evening.
"But doing this is like meditation for me," Patel said. "I enjoy it and time passes by and I don't even realize it."
He admits his creative processes, at first, took a long time. But as he's grown to master his craft, Patel has also learned how to create his fine works of art quicker without sacrificing quality.
"If you look at all of the works here, they were all done in about three-and-a-half months," he said. "But I don't have in my mind how much time each individual piece took."
Patel's work will be on display at the Main Street Gallery until Aug. 28.