The stone dust which covers Nivedita Mishra becomes her second skin, as the Delhi-based sculptor is at ease in it. Since childhood, Mishra has had a direct connection with stone, allowing nothing to come in the way. Collecting pebbles wherever she goes, even here in Chandigarh, Mishra has a “piece” of the place with her, as she gives new form to yet another block of stone as part of the ongoing stone sculpture workshop by the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi.
An alumnus of the Delhi College of Art, Mishra, who is originally from Odisha, says stone was always her first choice for expressing herself, simply because of its dimension. “Many were surprised with the choice of my medium, as I was a woman, and I took it as a challenge. As a woman I am a creator, I can create a child and a sculpture. You can feel a stone’s presence, all you need is a hammer and chisel to shape it and initiate a conversation with others,” says Mishra. Human relationships, their varied faces, and forms are the subjects that Mishra constantly expresses in her work, inspired by family, friends, her contemporaries and people around her.
“I remember when my sister was pregnant; I did a series of works on pregnancy, followed by those inspired by the events in my family and then my own children. There is so much to say, and stone as a medium allows you to create with freedom. Selling my first few works was so tough, for I felt I was giving away my own children,” adds Mishra.
Be it her series on stone and spiritualism, music in stone, or the theme of relationships and nature, Mishra says she is constantly searching for herself in her sculptures. Sketching the entire concept of her work first, or demonstrating it to her helpers in the clay she constantly carries and shapes, Mishra says it is very important that people around her understand her work, which becomes even more important in a public art project like this one.
“What you convey is most important and I believe art must be open to understanding for the public, and as an artist I am responsible for it. The public should feel a part of the work and the window must be open for them, especially since people and nature are my source for inspiration.” A work that is close to her heart is the National Police Memorial in Delhi, which has been designed and conceptualised by prominent sculptor Adwaita Charan Gadanayak, Mishra’s husband. “I was part of the project, which was such a gratifying and moving experience,” Mishra speaks of the 30-foot tall sculpture in black granite.
Here, connecting her work to the space she is in, Mishra is working on the concept of the celestial and human touch or bond. As the hand was an important element of Le Corbusier’s architecture, Mishra is creating two hands, one of a goddess and one human, with the fingers intertwined. “If you feel the touch, then I am successful as an artist. The moon, sky, movement of the clouds are close to my heart and appear in my work often, as I give different treatments to what I see and feel inside, constantly thinking what could have been, for I am never satisfied as an artist,” says Mishra.