Aparajita Jain Mahajan stitches fragments of memories through her art
Her provoking artwork is inspired by memories of her late mother’s textile store
For Aparajita Jain Mahajan, becoming an artist was the most organic decision she has ever made. Having grown up playing in her mother’s garment store, Haveli, which revived ethnic Indian textiles, she was always surrounded by artisans and painters. At her latest exhibition, Tracing Memories, which was a part of the group show Building Ruins (organised by the alumini club of the Rhode Island School of Design), she has revisited those childhood memories using leftover materials from the store she loved so dearly. ELLE spoke to her about the creative process that went into the meticulously created work of art.
ELLE: A lot of your love for art stems from the influence your mother had in your life. Tell us a little about it.
Aparajita Jain Mahajan: I grew up with stories of my mother’s love for art and how she took a big stand to get to go to art school. I was always encouraged to create with my hands and I spent a lot of time discussing my work with my mother as well. These discussions and thoughts have often found their way into my work.
ELLE: When did you realise you wanted to take it up as a career?
AJM: I never looked at it like a job. I think I subconsciously decided that this was the path I was going to pick. I’ve always just gone with flow. My first job was as an animator. I’ve created animations for the Gandhi exhibit which have permanent residence at The Birla House.
ELLE: How has being an animator helped you as an artist now?
AJM: It has heavily influenced the way I conceptualise things in my head now. I break down everything into frames and keep every little mark I make, every little movement, in mind because they all tend to have a role to play. Even while ideating for a piece, I like to write down keywords that come to my mind and then build on the thought.
ELLE: What inspired your last exhibit, Tracing Memories for the show Building Ruins?
AJM: To me, the idea revolved around second chances. Ruins are left behind so that you can weave another story from it. So I decided to use two ruins that were part of my life. One was the katran that was leftover from my mother’s store and the other was my unfinished work that couldn’t be completed because I was moving cities. I stitched, knotted and stuffed the katran into different shapes and decided to suspend them. I’ve always wanted to create art that involved a 3D effect or some form of suspension, so I’ve ticked that off my list.
Aparajita Jain Mahajan stitched, knotted and stuffed the katran that was leftover from her mother’s store
ELLE: What’s been the best feedback you’ve got for it?
AJM: An old friend’s mother came to see my exhibition and as she discussed the art with me, I felt a deeper connection with the piece. I felt like I understood it better. I realised a lot of the processes like knotting the katran were just spontaneous movements by me. And I also realised that all my works were an extension of my older works. The detailing, the shapes, the flow were all co-related and although each piece of this exhibit told different stories if you viewed them from different angles, they are all connected.
ELLE: Which is the next project you are excited for?
AJM: I have this series in mind which will be created with about a hundred small pieces and will revolve around the concept of interacting with strangers. It will bring out the aspect of sharing space with the unknown, an abstract depiction of how energies interact. I am very kicked about translating these thoughts into art.