Suchitra Mattai Guyana, b. 1973


I’m inspired by the mystery of the objects I find. When I combine multiple objects and mediums in a work, the collective aura translates into a space of new myth and new folktale. It's no longer about history. It’s about the immediate, and how the past plays into the contemporary conversation.”


- Suchitra Mattai

Suchitra Mattai is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work tells visual stories that touch on her Indo-Caribbean lineage. Blending painting, sculpture and installation with methods suggestive of domestic labor which she learned from her grandmother, such as sewing, embroidery and crocheting, the work addresses such topics as the legacy of colonialism, and relationships between culture and gender roles.


Mattai frequently uses found materials in her pieces that have their own embedded meanings, such as vintage saris, which relate to post-colonial concerns and contemporary issues surrounding gender, labor, and family. This creates a call and response between the materials, the topics addressed in the work, and processes involved in the work’s creation.


Mattai has lived in Canada, the United States, India, and Europe. Her studio practice addresses the disorientation of not really having a single home, a feeling that informs much of how she thinks about identity. Often, there is a sense of dislocation in the work between reality and what feels more like a dreamworld. The uncanny feeling being evoked is that of an idyllic, yet unfinished world. By unraveling and re-imagining the narratives associated with her heritage, she gives voice to people who have been quieted, or left out entirely of official historical accounts.


Mattai received an MFA in painting and drawing and an MA in South Asian art from the University of Pennsylvania, PA. Her work is in the collections of Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Bentonville, AR, USA; Jorge Pérez; Olivia Walton; Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO, USA; Kiran Nader Museum of Art, Delhi, India; Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL, USA; TIA Collection, Santa Fe, NM, USA; and Taylor Art Collection, Denver, CO, USA; among many others, and has been reviewed in publications such as Hyperallergic, The Boston Globe, Widewalls, and Wallpaper Magazine, among others. Forthcoming exhibitions include In the Adjacent Possible at John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI, USA; Form Forecast at MCA Chicago, IL, USA; The Depth of Identity: Art as Memory and Archive, curated by Rosie Gordon-Wallace and supported by the Green Foundation; Reorient at the Wing Luke Museum, Seattle, WA, USA; and Breathe into the Past: Cross Currents in the Caribbean, at the Colorado Fine Arts Center, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO. Recent exhibitions include Suchitra Mattai: Breathing Room, Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID, USA; State of the Art 2020, Crystal Bridges Museum/the Momentary, Bentonville, AR, USA; Sharjah Biennial 14, Sharjah, UAE; and Realms of Refuge, Kavi Gupta, Chicago, IL, USA; as well as exhibitions at the Center for Visual Arts, Metropolitan State University of Denver, CO, USA and the San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, TX, USA.