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Munsell Richter

  • a commission for Science Gallery - Bengaluru
  • 10 Plexiglass containers (60cm x 16.5cm x 1.3 cm)
  • December 2019 - present
  • Bengaluru, India

This project begins with the color of soil in the landscape. Mud samples were collected from the following sources:

  • Narsipura Lake
  • a Borewell
  • Ramanagara
  • JP Nagar Puttenahalli LKake
  • Thirumenahalli Lake, Agrahara Lake, and Chokkanahalli Lake combined
  • Aivarakhandapura lake
  • Mestripalya Lake
  • Bagalagunte Lake
  • Curiouscity Construction Site Sarjapur
  • Varthur Lake

and will document how life colors the landscape.


Life requires water. My paintings are soil saturated with water. For the commission in Bengaluru India --the Garden City-- I wanted to feature 10 of its >200 lakes. Diverse conditions result from urbanization including the recent fires on Bellandor Lake, the restoration of Kaikondanahalli Lake, citizen science projects occurring at Puttenahalli, Bagmane and Jakkur Lakes, activities to address pollution along the urban stream Vrishabhavathy, and conservation of the Thippagondana Halli reservoir catchment. This project will make visible the unique microbial species thriving in different contexts.

locations of mud collection
locations of mud collection

Over Thanksgiving Break, 2019, I collected mud from 10 different sites around Bengaluru India.

Goals for this project

While initiated for Science Gallery, these frames were designed to

  • have a removeable face for DNA species sampling
  • pack into 2 large suitcases
  • be re-used in 9 other cities, thus building two Richter-like color composition (100 soil painting +100 microbial paintings)

Unfortunately, due to Covid, I have not been back to see, document, take samples, or re-install this project in another city.


Shyam Patel, Siddhartha Chatterjee, Madhushree Kamak, Jahnavi Phalkey, AnnaPunna, Sree Subha Ramaswamy, Ishani Chaudhary, Shubha x, Bhaskar (my driver), Manu (my driver), Jagadish (Varthur), Shivram (the farmer in SW Bangalore), the guards at NCBS, the cantina staff at NCBS, the cleaning staff at NCBS, the apartment staff at NCBS-housing, NCBS, Science Gallery and its supporters, Bangalore International Center (BIC) and its supporters.

I would like to particularly thank Lakshmi Jagadish, an undergraduate who was a most important asset in collecting the final 6 samples. Her spirit, attitude, and enthusiasm was just wonderful. Her fluency in English and Kannada was essential in navigating the unique permissions necessary for collecting a gallon of mud. She is aspiring to be a teacher and will use Winogradsky columns with her students!

I was supported in India by several lovely women affiliated with Cornell, including but not limited to: Gayatri Menon, Shannon Ollson, and Shanoli Chinnia.Thank you all for sharing your tenacity and intelligence.

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