Playing With & For The Community
by Olsson Wang
Artist is the mediator between the people and the community, between the society and the nature.
With degrees on computer science and sociology in her luggage, Sankhya Jejurikar seems to be an odd bird in the fine art department at the LaSalle College of Contemporary Art in Singapore. Nevertheless, for Sankhya, it is more like home-return.
Born in a traditional mid-class family in India, learning art was not a natural option for Sankhya but she had to choose a more practical major that could lead her to a job after graduation. She picked up computer science at the university in India and became quite good at it, but deep inside her, the creative instinct has always been the driven power to whatever she has been doing. Sankhya describes her live as a nomad. She used to live cross continents in different places and travel globally to many countries. When she finally could make a choice for herself, not for her parents or someone else, she immediately chose art and has been enjoying every moment of her art study in LaSalle since she started in 2007.
Sankhya’s art begins from herself. Grown up in India and witnessed the immense poverty and social injustice in her own environment, she wants to create works that would relate to her life experience and also addresses to Singapore, the country where she has lived and studied for the past five years. It is when her environmental concern starts to grow strong. Singaporeans love for plastic bags becomes an issue for Sankhya. She is surprised to see how cashers in grocery stores pack each item in separate plastic bag, while in India these days, you can’t even get a free plastic bag from a shop on the wall anymore.
To highlight the consequence of the excessive use of plastic bags, Sankhya created a giant installation work which she named The Ocean of Future Trash. The installation measured up to 50 feet high and was hanged from the over-bridge from the 4th floor that links the LaSalle buildings. It was made of 5000 plastic bags that Sankhya recycled herself and from her friends under 4 months time. With the plastic bags reshaped into loops and knotted together, these stripes of plastic bags flow in the air demonstrating the impact of human consuming behavior to the nature.
To push her environmental concerns even further, Sankhya returns to her own artists group. The recycled “Art Friend” plastic bag project is based on the discarded “Art Friend” plastic carriers that are used by almost all artists working in Singapore when carry their art materials from the popular art supply retailer. Sankhya knitted these plastic bags of distinct yellow color into rugs that offer viewers a deceived visual experience. Such innovative interplay between craftsmanship and artistic interference transforms Sankhya’s environmental concern into the process of creating beauty in art.
In this sense, Sankhya is looking upon her idol and the artist that inspires her creative process the most, Eva Hesse. Hesse worked out of minimalism discourse but applied feminine values and personal passion in her innovative sculptures where time process and unorthodox materials formed another new language of art. Hesse has influenced a generation of artists, in particular female artists in finding themselves and exploring the boundaries through their art creation.
For Sankhya, this journey of finding has started long before she devotes herself to the study of fine art. Her rich and bred living experiences build up a strong foundation for her artistic aspiration. Her latest project tells a more personal story about herself. They are installations built on the text of her personal memories. They are engraved on some reflective materials inviting viewers to read her story and watch their own images and memories merge with the artist’s.
For Sankhya, being an artist is like a mediator between the nature and the society. She is eager to apply her version of the world through her art works and her art works proclaim her commitments.
Q. You were born in India, lived in Africa, America and now locate in Singapore studying fine art. As an artist, which country could you relate yourself to?
A. Singapore, absolutely. I’m a Singaporean artist. All my knowledge about art I have learnt here in Singapore. Although I loved art while I was little and was student in India, I was never given the chance to explore the world of art like I’m doing now. It is like a whole new world has opened up for me. I really enjoy my studies in LaSalle. Everyday I embrace the chance to experiment with new materials and new art concepts. It is here in Singapore that I become an artist.
Q. Have you always been very environmental concerned?
A. I think I am. When I grew up in India and surrounded by poor children who made their living on trash mountains, I’d always want to give them my stuffs instead. My mother had to make sure that I didn’t give away too many of my toys and clothes to our maids. I think it is poverty that teaches me to think more about our consumption structure. In rich countries, people tend to think less about how much they spend and consume when the supplies are ample.
Q. Your installations employ knotting and knitting which usually are related to feminine handcraft. How do you see craft and art work together?
A. Knotting and knitting are so much related to my memories of my childhood. My mother used to sew all our clothes when we were small. The picture of my mother knitting and sewing, decorating our home with handcrafts and colors belonged to my childhood. I was always attracted to knit and wanted to express myself through hands. I think it is from my mother that I inherit this interest for materials and handcrafts.
I don’t see craft and art are two sections, they are actually highly integrated. There are traditional crafts like making a bag with beads, but as the structure of a bag has been altered, it becomes something else. It is what I did with my plastic bags. Art can be decorative as well conceptual and educational.
Q. What do you see yourself in 5 years time?
A. I want to be an art therapist, dealing with wounded souls of children and younger people with art. It’s the way which I think as an artist I can give back to society. I also want to do my own art, perhaps more installation and sculpture. I enjoy dealing with materials and working with hands in my art process.
For more details of Sankhya’s exhibition at esplanade, http://www.esplanade.com/whats_on/programme_info/rhyming_yarn_recital/index.jsp