We are pleased to welcome two new VAF Artists, Dhara Mehrotra and Manjot Kaur, to Cambridge for the start of their fellowship at Harvard. The VAF program connects artists from South Asia with Harvard’s intellectual resources, and allows a platform for mid-career artists to conduct independent research that explores critical issues in South Asia through the lens of art and design.
Dhara and Manjot share their early impressions of their fellowship in the following Q&A. You can also read about all our current and previous Visiting Artist Fellows here.
About the VAF Artists
Dhara Mehrotra is a Visiting Artist Fellow from India. Dhara’s work celebrates patterns in how things organize themselves. Her recent works reflect upon the form, fabric, structure and topology of mycelium networks under the soil. The purpose is to realize synergy and interrelation between space and things to outgrow the notion of isolated consciousness.
On Her Motivations: “My work celebrates patterns in how things organize themselves. The ideas are around ‘Cluster and Space’ to evoke a sense of fluidity and boundlessness of the natural world around us. My recent works reflect upon the form, fabric, structure and topology of mycelium networks under the soil. These are fine threads like fungal networks that spread over great lengths, connecting the trees with each other, below ground. These networks are a medium for a wider array of complex interactions between the trees, many of which we (scientifically) are just beginning to understand. I observe, explore and improvise upon some of this phenomenon and the materiality. The purpose is to realize synergy and interrelation between space and things to outgrow the notion of isolated consciousness.”
What She Looks Forward To: “I am delighted to being at Harvard for the experience of its great campus and mind share with the global best in academia. I look forward to the opportunity to explore Harvard archives, museums and libraries and its enriching environment. .”
On Her Time at Harvard: “I intend to further my research into science of understanding living organisms at their micro levels; specifically in soil, (the immediate environment of mycelium nets); The idea of sustainability, beauty and intelligence in their ways of working; towards a possible shift from human-centered action to working with human intelligence into larger scheme of things.”
Click here to visit Dhara’s Website. A selection of her work is below.
Manjot Kaur is a Visiting Artist Fellow from India. Her drawings, paintings, and time-based media attempt to decolonize both the sovereignty of ecology and women’s bodies. Her works explore what it means to be human, what it means to be non-human, and where these meanings rupture and collide.
On Her Motivations: “My drawings, paintings, and time-based media attempt to decolonize both the sovereignty of ecology and women’s body. My practice intersects the boundaries of speculative fiction, archetypal allegories, and precarious ecologies to push back against the centering of humans as a protagonist and move toward a thinking that eradicates the hierarchy of being. My works explore what it means to be human, what it means to be non-human, and where these meanings rupture and collide. At large, my paintings open up possibilities for a post-queer and post-human world where species move away from questions of identity towards an uncanny kind of becoming in a multispecies world.”
What She Looks Forward To: “I am interested in meeting people with similar interests and delving deeper into conversations and discussions related to multi-species world as well as the relationship between human kind and biodiversity. I am keen on attending lectures related to folklore and mythology, immersive experience as art, and interdisciplinary art and design practices. I am interested in learning new approached to socially engaged art practices in order to reach out to larger audiences. Furthermore, I am excited about having a closer look at the miniature paintings and manuscripts in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums to understand the notions of storytelling, time, method and materials.”
On Her Time at Harvard: “During my time at Harvard, I want to further my current research, which is based on speculative fiction. In this work, forests convene to invoke archaic gods and goddesses of fertility and abundance to discuss their rights regarding their (forests’) well-being and protection. I believe this process of inventing fiction from mythology and the natural world will offer powerful tools to decolonize the existing dualist constructs of nature and culture, therefore raising questions concerning power and agency. This project comprises contemporary miniature paintings and a socially engaged component.”
Click here to visit Manjot’s website. A selection of her work is below.