My name is Narangkar Glover and I’m an artist, arts educator and knitter. I created the color wheel works that are currently on display in the windows of Knit Purl.
The inspiration for much of my work usually starts with "what if." It’s a spark of curiosity that nags me until I do something about it. A while back, I wanted to know if I could apply scholastic color theory principles to bits of string. That is to say, would criss-crossing, or holding together two bits of string of different colors behave similarly to mixing two hues of paint?
I set out to create it in crewel embroidery work. I used single strands of the 12 hues, and criss-crossed them in varying fashions with white, grey and black in order to achieve the tones, tints and shades respectively. Turns out, the eye reads it just as if we are reading mixed pigment.
Color Wheel by Narangkar Glover, 2007, 16 x 16 inches, embroidery on jute
Then, about 3 years ago, I wanted to know if I could create the same thing in intarsia knitting, using Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Shawl formula. How would it look? Could I work it in the round? Or would I have to work it back and forth and make a seam? How would my seam look? What kind of yarn would be best suited for this? Should I hold my yarns together, or should I ply them with a drop-spindle? How would different stitch patterns, fibers, and subtle variations in the dye process effect the overall outcome?
It’s typical that I ask myself a lot of questions during the research phase. I make a lot of samples and mock-ups, similar to how swatching informs knitters about the feel of the fiber, the color interaction and its behavior as a fabric. The questions are both pragmatic and esoteric.
That is to say, I am not only concerned about how my work will be executed, but also what it will ultimately convey to my viewers. What objective minutia can I realistically implement in order for the subjective aspect—the content and the meaning that it carries—to be legible and clear.
Farbenkugel #1 by Narangkar Glover, 2016, 37 x 37 inches
hand-knitted mohair/silk yarn over plexiglass and wood lightbox
On view at Knit Purl until March 8th
Despite this seemingly exhaustive research process in all of my work—along with the trials, errors, and at times, the miserable failures—my enthusiasm for the straightforward, academic color wheel remains a constant. It was my favorite thing to do in school. It’s one of my favorite things to teach. It’s a go-to method for warming up. It helped me develop the discipline of beginning studio sessions with a color exercise.
I mix paint, create color palettes and I form them into a plan for what I might want to work on next. The world might never see it, but it’s an integral part of my process, and because of this it has an intimacy and familiarity that is stabilizing and comforting.
In a broad sense, the academic color wheel signifies the language of visual art. It epitomizes and simplifies the artistic process, and equalizes the disciplines. Its circular (or spherical) form is codified and speaks to an almost immutable semiotics of color, and therefore points to our common perception. It fills a space for a conceptual self-reflexivity and in the end, the specificity of it speaks to art itself, and to the dialectic between form and concept.
If my inspiration is a kernel, a "what if," then the fuel for that inspiration is this dialectic. I’m routinely drawn to the tug between the tactile and the cerebral, and their convergence that then forms a singular, crystalized idea.
Thanks for reading, and if you are in the Portland, Oregon area, I hope you get a chance to stop by Knit Purl to see my windows in person. Ciao!
Farbenkugel #2 by Narangkar Glover, 2016, 16 inches (diameter),
hand-knitted mohair/silk yarn over paper and wire lamp
On view at Knit Purl until March 8th
More of Narangkar’s work can be seen at http://www.narangkar.com
Or follow @narangkar on instagram, twitter, and tumblr.