4 years ago
John Thottungal
Mercury Staff
Parth Parikh
Mercury Staff

A life sized nude female mannequin sits on a pedestal in the center of the P^2=V/C art exhibition at the Plano Arts Association in downtown Plano.

Rich oil and acrylic paintings and poetry fashioned the walls at the well-lit quiet gallery, whose serene atmosphere is secluded from the daily flow of the DART trains whizzing right outside. The exhibition is being held to commemorate cancer and autoimmune disease survivors’ struggle and victory.


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The catchy title of the exhibition and its premise is the brainchild of Talley Williams, the director of the Plano Arts Association.

“Purple and Pink or P^2 is equal to victory over cancer,” Williams said of the latest exhibition.

The PAA’s exhibition aims to resonate with the pain and hope that the journey of cancer and autoimmune disease involves. The exhibition, which opened with an evening reception on Oct. 26, showcases local artists’ works depicting their interpretation of the diseases and the effects on the person.

The mannequin catches everyone’s eye as they walk in. The color scheme is split evenly in the middle of the body, with the right side showing a bluish-gray hue and the left a vibrant greenish-yellow one. Intricate floral patterns in black adorn the left side, while the floral patterns are woven in with splotches of blue meshed with gray highlights on the right side.

The skull is colorless and features an organic chemistry formula of a chemotherapy agent with spiders crawling away from it highlighting the far-reaching consequences of the disease. The double-colored and decorated mannequin is designed to highlight the separate emotional and physical battle patients go through.

“By nature, I am an artist and by profession, I am an scientist,” said Jayashree Bihari, a recent public policy doctoral alumnus.

She writes, paints and has now forayed into fiberglass sculpture works as shown with her work “The Mannequin,” the central piece of the exhibition. Selling for $4,000 dollars, Bihari wants to donate some of the proceeds back to the gallery as she is fully committed to William’s dream of an art gallery where the community is vibrantly represented. Another work at the exhibition, an acrylic painting called “The Ballerinas” also by Bihari, is inspired by her own experience as a classically trained dancer in the Kathak style of Indian dance.

“This exhibition is not just about the physiological disease that is cancer but also of the cancers that attack our society,” Williams said.

She described racism, sexism and prejudicial attitudes as cancerous cells that attack each individual in a society and starts a chain reaction that perpetuates the negative and harmful biases. Williams felt inspired to design this exhibition and get local artists together as she has gone through the pain of many close family members suffering from Lupus, an autoimmune disease, and breast cancer.

The PAA started in 1967 during the wake of the national civil rights movement. As its first African American director, Williams makes it a point to design exhibitions that represent all of the demographics found in Plano.

Williams, a deeply spiritual woman and Bihari, an artist who believes in the transformational power of art, share a common vision to use art to affect change at the deepest level in the local community. The gallery receives a grant from the City of Plano in addition to private sponsors.

“More and more local businesses in the community are now donating to the gallery and helping it, because they realize the value it brings to Plano,” Williams said.

Bihari, who has a Ph.D. in sociology in India, worked for years with women who suffered from domestic abuse and marital violence. She talked about under-representation of female artists from the Indian subcontinent at previous art competitions. Her work as a sociologist deeply influenced her work as an artist, especially her work with women who were suffering in silence.

“Art has the power to change society,” Bihari said when she spoke of her decision to become a full-time artist after quitting her job.

The free exhibition runs every day except Mondays through Nov. 9, and more information about the gallery can be found at www.planoartassociation.com. Students can utilize their DART pass and get off at the downtown Plano station that is just a few stops north of the George Bush Turnpike to reach the gallery.