Sculpture subtext

Malappuram native Maya Mohan’s adorable-looking terracotta sculptures are a reflection of her childhood trauma 

Published: 16th March 2021 06:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2021 04:13 PM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

KOCHI: At first glance, Malappuram native Maya Mohan’s cutesy compact sculptures evoke admiration and fascination. On delving more into the implicit subtext of her work, a deafening silence is likely to befall the viewer. Employing terracotta and the seeds of Abrus Precatorius, commonly known as rosary pea, or ‘kunnikuru’ in local parlance, Maya has manifested her childhood trauma and unpleasant experiences into seven sculptures ranging from 22x11cm to 14x12cm in size. The figurines were recently part of an exhibition titled ‘Ocha’ held at Kerala Lalithakala Akademi recently.

A recent BFA graduate of Government College of Fine Arts, Thrissur, Maya’s perspective largely helps in battling her demons and aids in healing. “More than the final product, it is the process that entices and brings a sense of peace.

On closer observation, you will see technical shortcomings in my figures, an indication that I’m not a sculpture student. Creating objects with clay is a ‘trait’ I picked up during lockdown. Though my artwork was initially selected for the exhibition, eventually I decided to display my sculpture pieces,” says the 23-year-old. 

Among the seven pieces, little girls interspersed with ‘kunnikuru’ form the majority. “The seeds were mostly collected, along with other paraphernalia, as a kid. The collectables remind me of distinct instances. The quirky outfits on the figures are also reflective of what I love to engage with - making clothes with idiosyncratic materials.

I would have made more such pieces, but the non-availability of clay proved to be a hindrance,” she says. Imbibing the seeds into the little figurines, for Maya, is perhaps symbolic of reminiscing and breathing life to her younger self. 

The sculptures, now grim symbols, are also a harbinger of Maya’s pursuits in life. “I plan to study art therapy and psychology -- creating the sculpture pieces essentially helped in dealing with anxiety and fear. Helping others, primarily the mentally-challenged, express themselves through art, is my intention,” she says.


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