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Purvai Rai: the 2024 Artist in Residence at the Henry Moore Foundation

A photo of a textile artwork in shades of deep purple. The artwork is abstract and seems to depict a mountain in simple pale lines on the darker background.

We are thrilled to announce Purvai Rai as our Artist in Residence for 2024, part of our ongoing partnership with Yale Center for British Art and Yale School of Art.

Rai, a mixed-media artist, will spend four weeks with the Foundation’s collections and staff, developing her artistic practice and offering new responses to the artist’s work. Her residency begins in June 2024, when she will be predominantly based at Henry Moore Studios & Gardens, Hertfordshire. Located at the artist’s former home, the Studios & Gardens possesses one of the world’s largest collections of archival material and artworks by a single artist. With a wealth of staff expertise to offer within the Collections & Programmes Department, it offers an unrivalled resource for the understanding and appreciation of every aspect of Moore’s practice and legacy. She will also have the opportunity to spend one week at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, delving into the venue’s extensive Archive of Sculptors’ Papers and Sculpture Research Library.

A black and white portrait photo showing a young Indian woman with shoulder length hair.
A photo of a geometric artwork which is made up of rectangular patterns. The patterns are outlined in black dots and lines, against an off-white background

Purvai Rai (b. 1994) is a mixed media artist based out of New Haven, Connecticut, and New Delhi. Her artistic exploration centres on the interplay between memory, identity, and materiality. India’s complex socio-political realities inform her process, prompting a cathartic engagement with these narratives. This engagement manifests through ritualistic, repetitive practices – weaving, mark-making, and printmaking – that are meticulously researched and driven by the inherent qualities of the chosen materials.

During her time at the Foundation, Rai will focus on Henry Moore’s unique tapestries and on our extensive archive collections. Oral history and archiving are central to her own artistic practice which sits at the intersection of memory studies, oral histories, and heritage preservation. Her work delves into the themes of land, water, ecology, community, and architecture (achieved through socio-political critique), while examining their complex relationship with politics, religion, culture, and nationalism. She explores these themes through the lens of self-awareness, intergenerational exchange, and the transformative power of traditions and societies. Her work navigates the spectrum of voices documenting social, political life, and contested narratives, carving its own space within this discourse.