Fulbright to Nepal 2011-2012

Purchase instructions: email info@fulbright.org with artist name & details of art piece

Artist Statement

My work is an exploration of philosophical and cultural synthesis in which eastern and western iconographies and cultural paradigms are meaningfully integrated, bringing together disparate materials, traditional and contemporary aesthetics, and symbolic language. Believing that the powerful and expressive potential of indigenous ways of seeing and knowing can be effectively harnessed to contemporary art practice, my work endeavors to engage the viewer on a visceral level to promote awareness of the growing forces of cultural and environmental degradation and dislocation, and the interrelationship of environmental and cultural preservation.

For the past decade my work has employed the unique synthesis of repoussé metalwork and painting. This congress of materials—the first of its kind—was pioneered and definitively established during my 2011 Fulbright research fellowship to Nepal where, for “The Prakriti Project,” I studied with the finest living masters of this elite practice, the grandsons of the famed historic master Kuber Singh Shakya of Patan, Nepal; I continue to collaborate with his grandson, Master Rabindra Shakya and his atelier. I am the first and only artist to date working with the material synthesis of repousse metalwork and painting, and to date, the only foreigner to have attained proficiency in this ancient metalworking practice through study with this historic family of masters.

I continue to explore the expressive potential of my unique synthesis in Ardens Mundi (Burning Worlds). Envisioned as a planetary system comprising nine anti-worlds, each work prefigures an apocalyptic face of global warming. To date four worlds have been completed and are presented here; Tempestatis speaks to megastorms, Dessico to desertification, Conflatura to flooding and sea rise, and Inferno to firestorms. In these works, transmutational energies and psychological states are metaphorically evoked through the visual frisson of oppositional materials in dialogue. Copper repousse is an extremely ancient and demanding material practice intolerant of error demanding contemplative focus; the dynamic fluidity of paint is its intuitive and spontaneous complement; together they expressively visualize the dynamic continuum and universality of physical and cultural forces in opposition, engagement, and integration.

A graduate of the both the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Drdak is the recipient of numerous honors, including the 2011 U.S. Fulbright Senior Scholar Award for Nepal. Her work is found in numerous public, private, and university collections within the US and abroad, among them collectors Berthe and John Ford, Shelley and Donald Rubin, Lynda and Stuart Resnick, and the Father Emir and Sheikha Mozah of Qatar. Her exhibition history includes numerous solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad, international arts festivals, and museum and academic lecture venues by invitation. She has been the feature of media and print, and has several published works to her credit, as well as peer review journals. Drdak is recent past President of the Fellowship of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and currently Advisor to the Board. Drdak is represented by Independent Art Consultants in the United States and Europe, and Asia.