Ashwini Bhat

As an artist who has lived most of her life in India, where I studied ceramics with Ray Meeker in Pondicherry, I’ve come by curious and perhaps fateful circumstance to make my home in California. Even my journey into ceramics was unusual since my academic background is in literature and my first professional career was in classical dance. My journey as an artist has been a vigorous interrogation in search of form.

I transitioned from dance to ceramic sculpture with an abiding sense of an engagement with form as motion. In the large-scale ceramic work I’m building, the body of the human viewer is almost necessarily participatory in negotiating an encounter with the art, and both the sculptural and the human body, as they modulate exterior and interior horizons, emphasize, I hope, their mutuality, their simultaneity and involvement in each other.

I want my sculptures to invite viewers to walk around them, to interact with the revealed and the hidden. I’m passionate about form—mass, volume, material—in movement, tectonic aesthetics. I find it poignant that even in transformation, as clay turns to stone, the process of making—a fingertip depression, scrape, or dent—remains legible.

Since 2015, I have been a proud immigrant and, based on artistic merit, a citizen of the United States. Nevertheless, my concerns with my art remain distinctively international; I mean that my own identity is connected to an identification with others. If I speak several languages, if I can call on resources in multinational literature, dance, and artistic trajectories, perhaps I can use my particular experience in my ceramic work to break down some of the borders that keep feeling, empathy, and even beauty bound. If art, among the other things it does, teaches people to reinterpret known information about common experiences and the language used to describe it, I think that an immigrant like me, with an appetite for scholarship, literature, translation, dance, and ceramics, for instance, might bring to my immediate community fresh ways of seeing links and intuiting connections between the physical, intellectual, and the felt worlds.


Ashwini Bhat


Country, region
United States