Express press service
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Images of people in their daily habitat – sometimes lying on the ground, lost in deep thought, reading a newspaper leaning against a chair, mating a child – greet visitors in the gallery of the Thiruvananthapuram College of Fine Arts. About 11 of these life-size figures made using old newspapers and glue reflect the artistic expressions of Sandra Thomas, a final-year sculpture student at the BFA.
The impact of consumerism on the state, the superficiality of a brand-conscious society – all of these relevant cultural threads are reflected in his installation. Besides Sandra, the building, which hosted the annual Graduate Art Exhibition, has the ideas and thoughts of nearly 44 students who are learning painting, sculpture, and applied arts in college. After the lull brought by the pandemic, the fair was a great way for budding artists to reconnect with the idea of exhibiting their art.
A few of the striking installations were made using mixed mediums – a wooden hand holding a bandicoot rat by its tail, a wasp nestled on an abandoned computer motherboard, and a two-foot-long centipede . Sabhin SS’s creations reveal caste politics and discrimination in society while Jinto Bijo focused more on nature – such as his painting Kulam, which shows an aerial view of a countryside pond done in oil on Web.
The applied arts students used a mix of illustrations, fonts and posters. According to college director Manoj Vyloor, the exhibition is an informal way for students to learn about interpretations and criticism. “Students have failed to graduate for the past two years due to the pandemic. This year’s show opens a window into what’s happening at the college and the student talent here. Although it was a learning experience for them, I think the lack of ongoing offline lessons affected their skills to some degree,” he says.
Of humanity and more
Sandra’s untitled installations take a deep look into the human psyche. She considered the figure during the days of confinement when she was at her home in Kottayam. The figurines were made by folding newspapers and mesh, then adding colorful dresses and masks to them – a representation of the post-pandemic way of life. They were placed at the corners of the gallery and are a reflection of consumer culture, according to Sandra. “I tried to approach the existence and influence of consumerism through a ‘pop’ perspective. I chose industrial materials like metal, wire, mesh, newsprint, pulp and cardboard, etc., and combined them with toy-making and sewing techniques. I’ve been doing them since I was a kid. Masks are not just a representation of the pandemic. Rather, it is a product of the health industry that has infested our lives,” she adds.
She believes that faceless images can convey emotions and that non-verbal communication is possible through body postures. Sandra used recyclable materials for her work. The young artist wants to create more pieces using materials available at low prices, to spread a message of sustainability. Another of his works, titled 105 Kazhchakal, is made from pulp and plaster of Paris. The installation is approximately eight feet long and depicts various examples of his life – hostel, campus and pets. “My goal is to become an artist who creates environmentally friendly works of art,” she adds.