Rachna Toshniwal

ARTIST NOTE: Rachna Toshniwal took to art as a way to more deeply understand the nature of the Self. Nature, with its inherent multiple meanings - as in the inner workings of the mind, the environment we live in, the natural world, and as consciousness or the nature of being - is the foundational basis of her work. Consciously and unconsciously, Rachna continually seeks insights into the connection between the internal and the external self - with Nature - within and without. The endeavor is to collapse seeming dichotomies, juxtaposing self and other and find a more intimate and wholesome way of being - at the root of which lies the search for identity. Art then becomes a way to grapple with the salient connections between the intricacies of the nature of one’s being and the nature of the world - of life itself. Rachna paints without any preconceived notion of what image to paint or what the painting should finally end up looking like. For her, painting is just the simple act of putting paint on canvas and watching what emerges.The intention is to stay in the moment, alive to the painting, to observe and allow the creative process to unfold - which fuels her journey towards self-awareness as she witnesses and becomes aware of the nuances of the inner voice as well as the place she inhabits in the world. “It is the process itself - in the creative energy it releases, in the new perceptions it brings, and in the deepened connection with oneself it fosters - that is at the heart of the desire to paint. To make this the whole point of painting is a simple yet radical act. ”Michele Cassou & Stewart Cubley in Life, Paint and PassionBackground Rachna was born in New Delhi, India and spent her childhood in Mumbai, before moving to the United States to pursue her graduate and postgraduate degrees at New College of the University of South Florida, and American University, Washington DC, respectively. Her undergraduate thesis explored the ecophilosophical connections between humans, nature and the divine - theoretically and visually representing the concepts in different art forms such as sculpture, collage, papier mache etc., made from recycled and found materials. Ten years later, as part of her graduate senior research project, she explored the psychological components of the human-nature relationship. Her work in the non-governmental sector in the intervening decade included working with indigenous and grassroots communities in the Himalayas and in Costa Rica, social and political activism with organizations like Greenpeace and the Dahanu Taluka Environmental Welfare Association, and environmental education work with Dr. Vandana Shiva, Bittu Sehgal, and the Krishnamurti Foundation. Working as a full time artist over the past few years, Rachna has fine-tuned and enhanced her self-taught and natural artistic style with a host of formal training programs. These include art residencies in India and Europe, in-studio sessions with Indian and international artists like Surendra Rao and Kris Vandenberghe, and one-on-one tutorials on the psychological processes within art with Julie Dolin in Colorado and Neha Dubey in Mumbai.  On the personal front, yoga, meditation and psychoanalytical work continue to inform her explorations into the many aspects of the self. Rachna lives and works in Mumbai. She has previously participated in several group exhibitions and hosted some private showings. This is her first solo show.