Ankita Chatterjee sculpts her representation of society


Photo used with permission from Ankita Chatterjee

Ankita Chatterjee wears wings made from “To Kill a Mockingbird” pages.

Tanika Anbu, Staffer

Equipped with Photoshop and her trusty camera, senior Ankita Chatterjee spends months bringing the artistic vision brewing in her sketchbook and notebook margins to life, communicating critical messages that represent herself and resonate with her audience. From doodling to designing political representation sculptures, Chatterjee has branched beyond elementary art forms and has welcomed more complex and 3D art such as multimedia sculptures and photography.

Ever since Chatterjee could grip a crayon, she has been fueled with a desire to create art.  Her passion for art coupled with avid curiosity helps her create pieces that reflect her understanding of society. Even in classroom discussions or friendly conversation, Chatterjee constantly challenges the norm, asking probing questions to develop her own perspective and understand that of others. This skill guides her through her artistic journey. 

“Art is so valuable because it’s a way for you to speak volumes about something without having to raise your voice,” Chatterjee said. “It is the perfect medium to express your thoughts because you are in control.”

During the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Chatterjee was reading “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a book discussing race and prejudice. As she learned about the controversy behind this book, she wondered how racism became a taboo topic in society. Her belief in powerful literature inspired her to create a sculpture that comments on her appreciation for books with strong messages.  

“Literature has the potential to save humanity so we don’t repeat history,” Chatterjee said. “This piece served the purpose of encouraging my audience to think about the books they read and internalize those messages.” 

She developed an idea that revolved around a pair of life-size wings made up of pages from “To Kill a Mockingbird” and chicken wire. Making the wings using paper mache techniques, Chatterjee took photos of the wings hanging from the ceiling and of herself wearing them while reading “To Kill a Mockingbird.” 

Another piece from Chatterjee’s collection comments on women’s rights. Most of Chatterjee’s work originates from accessible materials, such as Pixie Stix candy and a Pepto Bismol bottle. In this case, she used a showerhead and sculpted clay to create a face on it, adding a personal effect. 

The showerhead was vital in executing her message concerning society’s perpetual critique of  women and their bodies. Conveying that one is at their most vulnerable in the shower, she used the showerhead to underscore the futility of trying to find a safe space and escape misogynistic chatter. 

Chatterjee’s art has won awards in several local competitions. Her piece “Grandmother’s Afternoon Tea,” a sculpture commemorating her grandmother’s daily tea, and “Defending the Womb,” a piece commenting on reproduction, have won Gold Key awards from Scholastic competitions. 

As Chatterjee continues to explore multimedia sculptures, she hopes to work on pieces that bring her closer to herself. With her desire to create and learn, she is excited to construct more creations that challenge world views. 

“After competing in several competitions, the best advice I got was to share my personal experiences, even if it’s not for anyone to see,” Chatterjee said. “The best pieces are those that are personal to yourself.”