Artist Phiroza Kapadia: Subtle layers bring serenity to Homeland gallery


Artist Phiroza Kapadia: Subtle layers bring serenity to Homeland gallery

Maybe it brings to mind a patchwork of scrap paper made by a schoolkid in art class, but Phiroza Kapadia elevates the art form into seamless, peaceful works of art.

Serene lotuses. Elegant geishas. Twittering birds and gliding swans.

Phiroza’s works are on display at the Homeland Florida Room Gallery, demonstrating the possibilities of mixed-media collage in the hands of a master.

The exhibit is courtesy of the community gallery initiative, arranged by Homeland staff for the enjoyment of Homeland residents, staff, and visitors. Through a longstanding partnership, the Art Association of Harrisburg selects local artists who bring their work every quarter to delight, awe, and inspire the Homeland community.

Phiroza Kapadia brought her mixed-media collages to the Homeland gallery in early April. The artist started her journey toward collage around the time she took another journey. That was in 2013, when she and her family left India, where Phiroza was born and raised, and moved to the Harrisburg area for her husband’s work.

Her kids were growing up then, giving her time to develop her artistic vision.

“I remember as a child, my favorite presents were art supplies,” she said. “I always gravitated toward art. I have a natural affinity for it. People who stopped around would see what I was creating and compliment me, and that spurred me to investigate it as a hobby.”

Taking classes in abstract art from the York Art Association, Phiroza shifted away from her traditional “painterly” style. Always willing to try new styles and genres, she decided to take a class in mixed-media collage.

“I was totally hooked,” she said. “The class made you express your own voice.”

Just what is “mixed media?” In art, it means taking a non-purist approach. The artist works in inks, fabrics, and papers with various elements and textures. Phiroza loves an intriguing piece of scrapbook paper or beautiful origami paper.

“If it’s anything that will benefit my art, I’m happy to incorporate it into my work,” she said.

She finds inspiration everywhere. It might be a bird, a bowl of fruit, or, recently, the tulips at Hershey Gardens. Her “trusty iPhone camera” goes with her everywhere.

“Whenever the inspiration strikes, and I see something beautiful, I capture it,” she said. “With a little bit of imagination, I create a painting from it.”

From there, the image gives her an idea of where it goes on the canvas. She starts by creating a collage with that beautiful background paper, then sketches and paints the subject on top.

“The work should be homogenized,” she said. “It’s supposed to speak as a whole painting. I approach it first by working through collage, and that inspires me to see something in the painting.”

Look closely at the works hanging in Homeland, and you might see some of the background paper peeking through the paint.

Some of Phiroza’s recent favorites are hanging at Homeland. She saw large lotuses in a Vancouver garden – trips to botanical gardens provide a constant stream of inspiration – and they reminded her of the lotuses growing in ponds in India.

“The lotuses are a symbol of peace,” she said. “They are a symbol of calm, of tranquility, and I like bringing those peaceful qualities as well as joyful qualities to my art.”

Phiroza shows her work through the Art Association of Harrisburg, galleries in Harrisburg and Lancaster, and coffeehouses. On Instagram, you can find her work at @phirozas.creations.

“I absolutely love working out of my home studio,” she adds. “It’s a beautiful space. It has some large windows that bring in natural light, which is very important for an artist.”

Today, Phiroza’s daughter is pursuing her master’s degree toward becoming a physician’s assistant. Her son is in college, studying to be a mechanical engineer. She enjoys nature walks, exercising, and spending time with her husband, now retired.

“It’s a good life,” she said.

Phiroza hopes that bringing her work to Homeland “might help to cheer people up, and to bring a little bit of joy and fun into their lives.”

Looking ahead, Phiroza was anticipating a planned trip to Longwood Gardens, the Kennett Square attraction famous for its spectacular botanical displays and sparkling fountains.

“I expect to take plenty of pictures and of course, bring those back to my studio,” she said. “Something will evolve from there, I’m sure.”