Ashwini Bhat

Lived Body

I often draw from my earlier training in dance, so there is an unusually close relationship between my own body and the sculptural body I’m creating. The mediums can be understood as extensions of each other as I explore the intertwined relationships between the human & non-human, between the interior & exterior, and between the constructed & the inherent. I find the forms I create are often suggestive of bodies—mineral, animal, vegetable, even human bodies. I’m not interested in creating a perfect object— if what defines an object is our removal from it. Instead, I’m searching for gestural links that emphasize what we share with the non-human world.

The simple repetition of gestures in the studio leads to formal rhythms. Muscle memory and meditation reinforce my oneness with the material. Clay becomes my robe, my mirror, my mantra.

During studio sessions, I write down questions that may become prompts for future work:

Is this a new-found connection with my material?

Where does my body end and the sculpture begin?

What do I mean by “body”? What do we mean by “object”?

What comprises the fullness of a self?

Body as material—

Body as implement—

Body as site—

Body as shell—

Body as aid—

Body as receptor—

Body, like clay, as a material

impressed with experiences, with memories—

The body within the body—

Touch. Curve. Texture. Growth.

Ashwini Bhat (b. Southern India) currently lives and works in the Bay Area, California. Coming from a background in literature and classical Indian dance, she now works at the intersection of sculpture, ceramics, installation, and performance. Bhat often introduces radical but somehow familiar forms to suggest complex interplay between the landscape, the human, and the non-human. "She has deep respect for her material. Clay does indeed come alive in her work, and it has much to show us" - Glenn Adamson (link to article)