^ The featured image above is the installation by Nandita Mukand titled ” The Tree and Me” (2014).
Tell us one interesting story that happened while you were creating your work.
When I started creating work on a bigger scale, it could not fit into my then home studio space. So I started appropriating different spaces in my home- hanging my work across a whole room, preparing materials through a wet and messy process on every available working surface and even on the floor. My poor family members always had to step around, jump over or duck under my work and even fled the rooms as they could not bear the smell of my works in progress. Finally, I had to arrange for a bigger studio space!
Tell us of an experience that you encountered that helped to shape your perspective as an artist
It is not one single experience but my collective experiences of being in the natural world. For me, these experiences are spiritual. I have undertaken artist residencies in the midst of wilderness and these experiences feed my soul and my artistic practice. Nature inspires me to create that which can go beyond words and touch the viewers’ hearts. However, I am not interested in creating pictures of the natural world but rather art that ponders the processes of the natural world.
After so many years of experimenting as an artist, tell us more about your favourite piece of work created so far.
My work ranges from painting to sculpture to installation. Whatever I am working on currently is usually what is of most interest, and everything before feels more like leading up to this moment. My paintings, sculpture and installation are all closely related, each experience feeding into the next.
If I really had to choose one- it would be “The Tree and Me” installation which is based on observations of nature and its relationship to urban life. It is made of newspaper dissolved into organic materials like vegetable matter, leaves, grass, henna, turmeric, coffee. The work was built up one layer at a time, waiting for each layer to dry before the next one could be applied. The structure took months to complete, mimicking the way nature and its processes are unhurried. The smaller sculptural forms scattered at the base are each the negative form within my fist, reflecting upon the futility of trying to grasp things which would inevitably slip through one’s fingers.
How do you keep up with what’s happening in the art community today?
I find that every new project that comes my way (exhibitions, artist residencies, art fairs, collaborations, etc) provides exposure to new aspects of the art community. Information comes in many forms-from other artists, curators, collectors and well wishers, but overall I find the most information is available online.
Share with us some challenges you faced transitioning from the corporate world into the art world, and how you dealt with them?
When I announced my decision to leave my corporate career in early 2008, it came as a big shock to my family and close friends. To put aside the mileage of a degree from the prestigious Indian Institute of Management and almost a decade of work in the corporate world was something many people could not understand. For years after I left, people expected me to go back to a corporate career. Financially, we had to deal with shifting from a double income household to operating on a single income. And in 2008-09, we faced a financial situation that required me to work part-time for a year. This solidified my decision to be the right one.
I cannot deny that it has been scary at times -to leave behind everything I had built up and to start from scratch in a totally different world. But that is nothing compared to the joy of getting up each day and channeling all my energy and abilities into something that I truly love. I work very hard and long but the work keeps me energized and grounded.
I know how privileged I am to be living the life I dreamt of.
What are you currently reading, watching, listening to, or looking at that inspires and fuels your love for art?
One of the books that recently inspired me is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “Flow: Psychology of Optimal Experience”. Other authors who have had an impact on my work are Rebecca Solnit and Robert Smithson. When it comes to art, I especially enjoy work that deals with evoking emotion through the experience of materiality. The works of Ernesto Neto, Karla Black, Eva Hesse, Anish Kapoor, Guiseppe Penone are among the many who inspire me.
What does being creative mean to you?
I am inspired by things that go beyond the norm of what can ordinarily be imagined. I am fascinated by art that takes something that is common to everyone and transforms it into something magical. By magical, I mean something that can open up a world in the mind of the viewer, move them into another space or at the very least provide a moment of stillness and contemplation.
What message are you trying to communicate across with your art?
While my work is often related to a city dweller’s relationship with nature and with spirituality, my intention is not so much to communicate something as to evoke experience. My desire is to engage the viewer in something beyond words and intellectual discussion.
For more information and more artwork from this artist,
click on the link to view the artist profile.