Sylvia Nasreen Chowdhury

Thu Oct 21 2021 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)


It is easy to overlook how much courage it takes to follow your heart, especially for young, brown, working-class daughters of immigrants. Our choices and dreams are constantly balanced against the sacrifices made by our families and their traditional expectations of success. My advice to anyone immobilized by judgment or the fear of failure—pursue what you love, keep surprising others with what you're capable of, and make work you are proud of, not disconnected from.

As a creator, what motivates my practice is a sincere and equal love of both process and product. My ceramic studio launched simply out of an admiration for art that incites sensation, emotion, attention and memory, and the desire to initiate these feelings within the intimacy of others' homes.

There's something especially concrete and satisfying about working with clay—as a small woman, it feels powerful to exert your force and witness (in real-time) the relationship between your body and the physical world, to see the tiny or dramatic impact you can have on something that didn't exist before. Clay doesn't give me the same chance to question what I'm doing as other mediums, it feels materially undeniable. You're sort of forced to loosen up into self forgiveness, and you really learn to play. It stretches the muscles of instinct, logic, pressure and resistance.

Ultimately, I create as an attempt to resist and outlast the inevitability of death. I think my obsession with heirlooms and artifacts of personal archives is a direct response to the experience of being without them—constitutive of diaspora, of having the legacies closest to home erased and withheld. For me, making physical art helps restitute this loss and absence, fulfilling an almost desperate desire for proof of existence. I wasn't raised in a creative environment, but I remained instinctively curious of the choices people made in bringing beauty into their lives, especially what physical tokens they held onto communicated about them. For people without access to their histories, building a physical and personally representative archive feels quintessential to me.