To create A Mother’s Glow, Suchitra Mattai weaved together found, vintage saris, including her mother’s wedding saris. Some of the saris are everyday garments, referring to elements of labor within the domestic sphere the wearer would have been engaged in.
“These sari pieces become a way of connecting women of the South Asian diaspora over time, because they’re of different vintages,” says Mattai. “Being part of a diaspora community, you want to connect back to this past you no longer occupy, or have tangible evidence of.”
The bells in the work are worn in Indian classical dance. They are worn on the ankle, so they sound when the wearer stomps their feet. Mattai incorporated them because of a story she learned about her mother living for nine months in silent meditation, with no contact with others.
“It’s a personal story but speaks to alienation,” says Mattai. “It’s a very introverted, quiet piece; it tells a quiet story, but the bells resonate of sound. You can read it different ways—it could be a joyous sound, but also a ritual sound, because classical dance has a religious context. The intent activates the magic within the materials.”