Ashwini Bhat Biography
Ashwini Bhat studied ceramics with Ray Meeker at Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry. She has a M.A degree in literature and studied classical dance for nearly ten years before working as a professional dancer in the Padmini Chettur Dance Company for four years.
Her work has been featured internationally in many galleries and exhibitions including, most recently, in Newport Art Museum, NCECA (Providence, RI, 2015 and Houston, TX, 2013); Crimson Laurel Gallery (Bakersville, NC, USA); Indian Museum at FLICAM (Fuping, China); Clayspace Gallery (Asheville, NC, USA); the Sculpture Garden at Grand Hyatt (Chennai, India); India Art Summit (New Delhi, India); and Woodfire Tasmania (Deloraine, Australia).
In 2012 Bhat built her studio and woodfiring kiln near Auroville, Pondicherry, India and continues to make sculptural ceramic works there and abroad. In 2014, she was a visiting artist at Gustin Ceramics, South Dartmouth, MA. She won the Howard Foundation Fellowship for Sculpture (2013-14).
Ashwini Bhat Description
- What cone do you fire to?
Usually to cone 10. Recently have started to fire to cone 7 and do a long reduction cooling.
- What type of clay body do you use?
- What types of glazes do you use - if any?
Natural ash, sometimes Shino but mostly Naked clay body or very clay slip applied.
- Is your work functional and safe to use with food / dishwasher / microwave...?
I am mostly inclined to make sculptural work. But when I make tableware I use either Shino or a Liner glaze on the inside so that its easier to clean and yes it is safe to use with food.
- What techniques do you use when constructing your work?
I mostly handbuild with clay coils or soft slabs. Sometimes working through solid clay blocks scooping out the clay to create the internal space. I also work a lot of long stretched clay coils, its extremely physical and rhythmic and matches with my early training in dance: using the center and the entire body to create the movement and letting that movement of the body to guide the form of the stretched coils. I also use large soft slabs and use paper inside the form to support or to give shape: I let the form chose the technique for me and not the other way round!
- What techniques do you use when decorating your work?
I mostly use just the naked clay and use the wads or the Senbais to create the pattern of light and shadow. I have (recently) used Mishima in my work as it allows me to use two kinds of clay bodies and to create the changing layers of colors without having to use glaze or slips. When I use clay slips I either use the brush and wipe method to create light and dark patterns or pour the clayslip (mostly holding the piece upside down!)
- Is there any other information that a collector should know about you and your work?
I come from a background in dance and literature and they constantly influence my way of seeing the world. I take strength from my past training and constantly look for challenging explorations, Currently I am working on a collaborative project involving a ceramic artist, a fabric designer and a poet, aiming to finish the project in early 2016.
Ashwini Bhat Statement
My journey as an artist has been a vigorous interrogation in search of a form. I have a background in literature, n translation and in classical dance. Now I gather shapes from the world around me, from travel, and from my journeys through books. I also look inside myself for forms and I translate those into bodies of clay.
I don’t want my classical dance background to be an exotic reference point for my ceramic career, although dance is a significant part of the past that has shaped me. Both arts are physically intense and demand attunement to rhythmical structures and patterns. Both involve the choreography of spatial relations. But with clay, I have found the material that allows me to exercise my creativity at large.
My work expresses my thinking less through what have become standard artist references to contemporary theory and various isms, than through my engagement with the materials themselves. Another way of saying this is that I’m more focused on expressive than descriptive values. I want my ceramic sculptures to accompany viewers beyond the familiar.
I don’t make grand claims for my art, but my concerns are distinctively international. When I say international, I mean that my own identity is connected to identification with others. If I speak several languages, if I can call on resources in literature and dance, perhaps I can use this distinctive experience in my ceramic work to break down some of the borders that keep feeling, empathy, even beauty bound. I want my ceramic work to enter into the course of the lives of its viewers, emerging, receding, resurfacing, turning them away from habits of perception.
I guess I can say that I value gesture over statement and that I’m less interested in traditional forms than in exploration. I can say that I don’t think truth ever stands still. I have mostly gotten to know myself as a ceramic artist from my mistakes. Perhaps in the end, I simply want to give body to spirit. I want to choreograph intimate transformative experience in clay. And I want the work to be convincing to myself.
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