Anyone who has taken up a new hobby in quarantine should be in awe of multi-talented sculptor Seema Singh Dua. Her work spans many mediums, including clay, textiles, bronze, and even poetry.
Every Seema Singh Dua piece is remarkable because it carries a spark of realism that draws the eye. The humans she sculpts look like they’ve just been caught in the act of doing something they love, and the devotion, pleasure, and joy are tangible.
Her series “Reader” is made up of life-size human sculptures that are all deeply engrossed in books. The last place they were displayed was at the Hindustan Times Imagine Fest 2019, one of India’s largest fine arts festivals.
A Sculptor is Born
Singh Dua was born and grew up in Delhi, where she was raised by progressive parents. Each one of her five siblings were given moral and emotional support, and all were encouraged to pursue whatever they set out to achieve.
From an early age, creativity was always a huge part of Singh Dua’s life. Her comfort in multiple mediums is a testament to not only her vision, but also her mastery of all of these various crafts. She began her artistic journey working as a freelance textile designer for various prestigious design houses. From there, she started a family, but continued to pursue her art. Eventually, she was invited to join the sculpture department at Triveni Kala Sangam, an arts organization and cultural center in New Delhi that was founded in 1950.
Now, Singh Dua regularly displays her art around India, and has attracted attention from art enthusiasts around the globe. She was recently selected as a jury member for an art competition organized by Art and Artisans India , which is affiliated to Global Challenges Forum (GCF) , Integrated Learning Institute For Sustainable Development (ILIFSD) and The United Nations Institute for Training and Research. In addition, Singh Dua has been invited by the Alfa Art Gallery in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to be a part of a show starting on December 1st.
We were fortunate enough to speak with her from India, and ask some questions about her work, her deep well of creativity, and what’s kept her going in lockdown.
What drew you to sculpture?
Seema Singh Dua: I was always inclined towards art as a subject. Commercial art was my major in high school, then I spent three years studying design technology in textiles in undergrad. Finally, I found my calling in sculpture as a medium to express myself.
What other mediums do you enjoy?
SSD: For years, I freelanced as a textile designer with many prestigious design houses. I started my family, and with two kids at home my priorities shifted, and work moved to the back burner.
There came a day when suddenly I realized that I could be a good mom, a good wife, and keep my house going while doing something for myself. That day, I joined the sculpture department at Triveni Kala Sangam. I’ve never thought of it as a lucrative profession, but instead as something that could satisfy my curiosity about myself.
My transition from clay to fiber resin to bronze has been gradual. I now experiment with diverse mediums like stained glass, mild steel, stainless steel, and wood. I use them frequently in mixed media in my work.
There came a day when suddenly I realized that I could be a good mom, a good wife, and keep my house going while doing something for myself.
What does your daily routine look like when you’re sculpting?
SSD: My studio being in close proximity to my house gives me the liberty to work long hours at times. There are other days where I only go for a good productive 15-20 minutes. My studio to me is my haven, my den, my release, and my place of worship.
How do you see your culture connecting to your work?
SSD: Generally speaking, art takes the form of whatever you’re going through internally — a phase in life, so to speak. So, a series could come out of anything, out of the blue- relationships, connection with nature, the power of nurturing, the joy of reading, spiritual, or even religious journeys.
What is your advice to young people, girls in particular, who might be interested in pursuing a career in the fine arts, or sculpture more specifically?
SSD: To the young people, I would like to say to do what you are passionate about! Never start your work with questions of “will it sell?” or “will I find a buyer?”
Let yourself explore what is within you. Don’t let others judge your very being, just allow yourself to be. Sculpture as a medium is labor-intensive, and we girls have to deal with chipped nails, but it is so worth it.
What do the next six months look like for you personally, and professionally?
SSD: With the whole world in the grip of a pandemic, it is difficult to make plans. Wishful thinking would like me to list a few priorities, which would include travel and lots more travel!
Professionally, I am primarily focusing on painting on canvas, as it does not involve interaction with the casters or it going to the foundry. I was fortunate to get commissioned for two works which are keeping me busy in these times of lockdown.
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