India is My Country – woodfired stoneware, cloth and brass; 50 x 15 x 8 in.
I remember as a child of 6 or 7, watching a village potter throw cups off a hand spun potter’s wheel. I remember fearfully crouching over the wheel opposite him, while his fingers guided mine. I remember listening to stories about the gods, of the struggle for India’s freedom, of the lives of my extended family over seven generations. Myth and memory merged in my mother’s telling and with each retelling they became a part of my everyday acquaintance. I remember watching my mother pray each morning in front of her shrine in our home, and adorn the baby Krishna idol with jewelry, clothes and flowers. I remember traveling across rural India as an environmental journalist, discovering my land as a young adult.
These memories and the constant confrontation with contradiction, which is a part of everyday living in India, influence my work. Clay allows me to explore not easily articulated intuitions in a tactile and visual way. My “yalis”, as I refer to my figurative sculpture, begin to live for me and tell their stories in their living. Their stories reflect my search as they grapple with the modern and the ancient, the personal and the universal, the male and the female, the east and the west, the spiritual and the profane, the rational and the intuitive, the animal and the human, the religious and the secular, and the political and the non partisan.
I enjoy “dressing up” the yalis with fabric, garlands and ornaments used on cattle.
© Anjani Khanna