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navya thakkar – who should i be?


Indian. Hindu. Gujarati. Lohana. Thakkar. Mumbaikar. Woman. Immigrant. International student. These are all identities and labels I acquired while growing up in Mumbai, India. They represent a large part of who I am, and who I can be. However, these identities also lay at the crux of the part of myself I don’t quite understand yet. A part of myself that is frequently in flux, struggling to integrate my origin within my sense of self. Therefore, for my Senior Exhibition, I approached the body of work as a form of exploration, investigating the role of my origin and heritage, and their interaction with my identity over time. I wanted to capture the juxtaposition that while my origin remains constant, how I identify with it and the role it plays in my life constantly changes.

My pieces exist within the form of an artist book. I was drawn to this form of expression because it creates a narrative around my experimentation, showcasing how, as I learn and grow, my relationship with my culture changes. I created a process of re-representing objects and visuals that I consider cultural pillars in my life, encapsulating what they have come to mean to me. For each piece, I chose a medium that would best convey the concept, including various printmaking methods, digital design, and embroidery and stitching.

Through my work, I want to depict experimentation as an essential part of identity, and how it is only through play and trial that you can understand more about yourself. I visualize this process through an installation of the debris that was produced during the proofing process for every piece created. The artist book and the installation together in the exhibition create a juxtaposition of process and product, and how neither can exist without the other.



Navya Thakkar was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She currently attends Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, TN, to study Biology and Studio Art. Growing up in a household with an interior designer, Thakkar has always had a love for the creative arts. When she came to Vanderbilt, she began to combine her passions for biology and art and joined ArtLab at Vanderbilt to create scientific graphics and artworks for various labs and researchers. Thakkar has worked with The Madhur Lab at VUMC, Black In Cardio and The LGBT Policy Lab to create artworks in collaboration with scientists. She has also participated in the Nested Knowledge Fellowship Program and the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology & Inflammation Artist In Residence Program, continuing to explore the intersection of art and science. Finding her calling in art, Thakkar decided to pursue a second major in Studio Arts. Since then, she has learned many different mediums, with printmaking becoming her primary focus. Through print, Thakkar enjoys play and experimentation. A lot of her work surrounds explorations of her cultural identity and her relationship with her home. She hopes to keep honing her skills and continue to grow as an artist.

Navya is the recipient of the 2022 Margaret Stonewall Wooldridge Hamblet Award.