Braille text is Vijaya Chauhan’s forte in art.
For artists, their surroundings are the muse. The spark can come from a situation, dialogue or person. Chhattisgarh-based Vijaya Chauhan found her creative glint back in 2008 in two of her visually-impaired roommates. She realised how different their lifestyle was from that of other people and the significance of Braille text.
“I was doing my art course at Indira Kala Sangit University in Khairagarh when I met two wonderful people. I was their scribe during examinations. In the room, they used to ask me for paper to make notes and I gave them fresh sheets. But, then they asked for the paper I had discarded. I was surprised and asked why they needed waste paper. Their answer was an eye-opener for me. They said, ‘Vijaya, for you, it may be waste paper because you see colours and lines on it. But, we don’t see that. For us, it is plain paper’,” Vijaya recalls.
That was a trigger for her. “They would arrange the paper and emboss Braille letters on them. A human with all five senses is called a perfect creature. If one organ is lacking, she/he is treated differently and that person follows a different metaphor for communication. I use such unusual elements of expression, used by disabled people to learn and communicate, in my works,” says Vijaya, whose mind got stuck in the Braille text. It has been her subject since 2008.
Vijaya makes Braille imprints on various mediums like terracotta, ceramic, wood, metal and stone. Her first work — a sculpture made of wood and painted iron resembled a paper printer. Braille text has been her theme for the ongoing camp in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
“The camp in Tihar Jail intends to soothe the minds of inmates. Here, I have made a terracotta sculpture that looks like papers stacked on a rod. The names of the inmates are carved in Braille format on the terracotta paper,” says Vijaya.
Through her Braille works, Vijaya intends to create a dialogue with the spectator. “The physical form of the script that can be read only by the blind provides an unknown visual mystery to the viewer. Also, I try to make art for the visually impaired people through Braille,” she says .
“Assembling words in terracotta follows a specific pattern. They all are combined to form an ‘essay’ that is hanging on the wall. Each and every part of the sculpture has its own identity. They speak words, colours and sentences. I use terracotta medium to have a natural, raw and earthy impression on the dialogues I wish to deliver,” she adds.