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Lokvani Talks To Mamta Mehra

Ranjani Saigal

(This article is sponsored by New England Shirdi Sai Temple)

Mamta Mehra works as a real estate agent for Century21 Spindler and O’Neil.  That is just a small aspect of this woman who has had wide variety of experiences from running a restaurant (we all remember Mysore Veggies), serving as a teacher in a nursery school to running a Ceramic store. However at the very core, Mamta is an artist who specializes in Ceramics.  She is serving as an Art Ambassador for the Colors of India, IndiArt competition. The event organized by the Ekal Vodyalaya Foundation of USA, New England chapter is  the brainchild of Jharna Madan, a dedicated Ekal volunteer. To enroll your child in the competition, please go to http://www.ekal.org/event/indiart.

Can you describe your journey into the world of Art? 

Through my years in school, I always felt passionately about art.  After completing high school, I got accepted into Apeejay Institute of Design, a premier design school in New Delhi, India.  I specialized in Ceramic Designing comprising art forms such as sculptures, pottery, murals, and worked with a variety of materials such as plaster of paris, clay, metal and wood.  

During my bachelor’s at Apeejay and following my graduation, I had the opportunity to be part of several exhibitions in New Delhi and Gujarat with renowned potters and artists of India.  I was also fortunate to be invited to work with well-established artists at Lalit Kala Academy of Delhi and Delhi Blue Pottery, two distinguished pottery studios in the country.  My passion for arts also led me to teach pottery to the underprivileged and special needs children at Vasant Valley School in New Delhi, India.

See below an Article published in The Hindu newspaper that highlights my involvement, as a beginner, with a well-known pottery exhibition in India.   

In your view, what is the role of Art in an individual’s life/society? 

In my opinion, art is a way to express a person’s inner feelings and emotions.  Often times it acts as an outlet to exhibit various emotions such as love, happiness, sorrow and anger.  It has often worked as a stress reliever for me.  The simple act of being able to express my feelings in one of the various art forms I’ve studied has brought great joy to me personally. 

Pottery something very common in Rural India and has been done since the beginning of time. What are the similarities and differences between that and the sophisticated Ceramic art? 

For an artist, clay is a medium of pure artistic expression. That artist can be a potter in Rural India or one trained at Ceramic institutes. When I touch clay it transform my inner soul and I see beauty emerge.  The piece becomes a part of the artist. 

How then do you feel when you sell the piece? 

It is like the marriage of a daughter – it is a sweet sorrow. There is that sorrow of being separated from the art piece which is a part of you . Yet one feel gratified at the appreciation the piece of art has received and the joy it will bring to the home it goes to. I remember the pangs of sweet sorrow when I sold my first piece. 

Why did you join Ekal's IndiArt initiative?  

While I feel passionately about the different forms of art that I have studied and practiced, I wanted to partake in a bigger cause.  I was excited to learn about Ekal’s IndiArt initiative, and readily agreed to be a part of an organization that is dedicated to helping the underprivileged in India.  I truly feel fortunate to be a part of this initiative – it is a modest undertaking for me to give back to the society I grew up in.

You now wear a multitude of hats. Why did you decide to explore other career options besides art?

When I got married and moved to the US I had to give up my flourishing career in arts in India. I was very surprised that the Ceramic art world in the US is not as big as I had imagined.  For me aet is never about a career. It is never about getting world acclaim. It is about the expression of my inner soul and I can continue to do that without having a formal career in the arts. So while my profession is real estate, I continue to work extensively as an artist. 

How do you manage your time between a full time job, art, and family? 

At present, I work as a realtor and a hands-on mom, which is a full-time job in itself.  My everyday life has me “on the go” as I straddle between my work commitments and my child’s after-school activities.  For me, art acts as therapy.  It works as a de-stressor, and helps me relax with the daily chaos in my life.  In the near future, I hope to use my background in art as a platform to promote art, culture and design, while exposing and educating children and adults to these often forgotten forms of arts, especially pottery and ceramics.

Any piece of advice for our young artists?   

Every person is a born artist, with an empty canvas that is ready to be filled with one’s own style and flair.  Just follow your dreams and aspirations!

To quote a popular artist from the 19th century, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

In one line define art:…

Art is a medium to express one’s inner feelings in the form of colors and strokes.

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Let us grow and move in life therefore the foot and tree in every sketch of a mural - sculpture kind off like my signature .

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