Charkha — The Wheels of Svavalamban. 2023



I was commissioned to create these artworks on the theme  swavlambhan by Smt Jaya Jailtly founder/ president of Dastkari Haat Samiti. These works in the new Parliament House depict the theme of svavlambhan (self reliance).

This installation is a triptych titled, ‘Charkha — the Wheels of Svavalamban.’
Created on hand-spun, handwoven khadi – they feature different charkhas, printed in traditional Ajrakh style, and embellished with tiny mirrors and zardozi work. The charkha (spinning wheel) symbolises unity, freedom, and self-sufficiency, reminding us of the Swadeshi Movement during India’s freedom struggle, when it stood for making our own products. The idea of creating two charkhas reflects the diversity of people, as a collective whole, strengthening the concept of Svavalamban. In collaboration with my ajrakh craftsmen Juned Khatri and embroiders, I tried to evoke the sentiment, to remind us that our freedom was hard won, and that it can be protected and preserved through self-reliance.

It’s indeed very humbling and a great honour to get this opportunity for me to create these works! 

 More images of the artworks :https://www.shellyjyoti.com/blog/

Shelly Jyoti – Indigo: The “Blue Gold” (2023) 
From plantation, trade, to migration, forced labor, and colonisation
INTRODUCTION: The South Asia Institute is honoured to present New Delhi-based Indian contemporary artist and textile designer Shelly Jyoti’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States. Shelly Jyoti – Indigo: The “Blue Gold” is a mid-career retrospective of Jyoti’s investigation into 

the 18-19th century colonial trade of natural indigo dye. Known as the “King of Dyes,” “Devil’s Dye,” and “Blue Gold,” indigo dye dates back more than 4,000 years to societies in Egypt and across Asia. Jyoti’s exhibition focuses specifically on indigo’s long history from several perspectives, including global trade,  forced labor, slavery, and indentured labor, migration, and colonisation in terms of India’s colonial history.The exhibition features new artworks along with a selection of Jyoti’s installations, poetry, drawing, fashion, and textiles from the past decade including her signature “Indigo Narratives” series, which traveled extensively across the US and India from 2009–2018.  Jyoti’s original textile art is produced in the studios of master craftsmen Juned M. Khatri, son of the legendary Dr. Ismail Mohamd Khatri, in Ajrakhpur, Bhuj, Gujarat. Exhibition curated by Laura Kina.

South Asia Institute, 1925 S Michigan, Chicago, IL 60616
July 22-December 16, 2023





Introduction: Epoch 2020: Relevance of Gandhi in Present Tense by shelly Jyoti is in response to the lived experience of the unprecedented times of Global Pandemic, that posed existential questions exposing the limits of modernity. Experiencing such epochal times, the artist explored two questions, firstly, what is time? and secondly, what do pictures mean to explain the present tense of time and historically? 

The artist has digitally transferred images of her textile works on  acid free paper and layered with mixed media. Jyoti revisits her collection of decades of work that are referred to as timelessness and time binding qualities of Gandhi’s philosophies for building moral and peaceful societies. This exhibition features 30 small format diptychs on paper, 20 short poems titled ‘Passage of time’, and  3 minute animated film ‘Unsettled winds’

2021:A virtual event: Hosted by Indira  Gandhi Nation Centre for Arts, New Delhi 





IMG_8065Introduction: These works titled ‘Bound by duty: An idea of Swaraj and Collectiveness’ (working title) are inspired by Gandhi’s seminal anti-imperialist text Hind Swaraj (1909). I examine the elements of Gandhi’s critique of modern civilization, noting his emphasis on an evolved ethical and spiritual self for creating an alternative perspective of a better world. I continue to explore the idea of swadharma, where a man does not have to await a social revolution to create better societies and, that a better world cannot be sustained without work on the self. Swaraj (self-rule) has to be experienced by each one for himself, and to further add that ‘real home rule is self-rule or self-control.’My inspiration is those micro-organisms school of fishes, who when in trillions collaborate together undersea, displacing water to create ocean currents and waves. I examining the idea of ‘collective impact’ or ‘collectiveness’ in societies that are evolved ethically and spiritually, to bring social changes for better alternate societies. These works are in continuation of my previous works on a title,’ Indigo Narratives’2009-17); Salt: The Great March (2013-5); The Khadi March: Just Five Meters (2016-17). The exhibits include textile site-specific installations, 30 new Ajrakh artworks on khadi, spoken word poetry performance, a short documentary titled Mapping Ajrakh traditions in contemporary art and craft II

2019: Jehangir art gallery Mumbai, November- Dec 2019

2019; India international centre, New Delhi, September 2019

2018 Preview: Twin art galleries, CV mess, Janpath road, IGNCA, New Delhi



image2-3-copyIntroduction: The opportunity of this exhibition, Revisiting Gandhi, comes at an important juncture in Shelly Jyoti’s life and creative journey – offering her reason to reflect on over a decade of intense introspection on the life and work of Gandhi.  Realizing that what Gandhi inspired and put into action, self-transformation, with the ultimate goal of the total transformation of society, is an ongoing and ever-present process, Jyoti draws on intellectual, historical, spiritual and artistic ideas and traditions that although rooted in the past, still flourish, ferment and bear fruit today. Through exquisite textile works created between 2009 and 2018, Jyoti has found material form for key themes in Gandhian thought entwined with Indian history and identity – Swaraj, Khadi, Salt and Indigo.  By translating her concepts and designs through India’s unique craft techniques and traditions, her collaborative spirit and creative processes pays tribute to both Gandhi and her country.

Presented by Indira Gandhi National Center for Arts, New Delhi
October 6-21, 2018
Twin Art Galleries, IGNCA, New Delhi


                                                                           Introduction: The Khadi March: Just five meters by Shelly Jyoti work exDSC_0018-copy-885x1024plore the philosophy of Gandhi’s khadi traversing human lives and humanity in 21st century. The featured works have two aims, one to touch upon the idea of swadharma towards nation and secondly explore a solution to uplift the rural population. A focus on swadharma possesses the potential not only to reclothe urban India but also to build new bonds between urban and rural populations, investing communities across the nation with common cause and purpose. Working in collaboration with 10th generation of Ajrakh textile artisans at Bhuj in Gujarat, these art scrolls on khadi with 200-400-year-old blocks have historic importance but are conceptually contemporary in design. These works are in continuation of  Shelly Jyoti’s previous works ‘Indigo Narratives’ (2009-14) and ‘Salt: The Great March’ (2013-15) These work features multi-media spoken poetry art, khadi site-specific installations, 20 Ajrakh textile artworks and a documentary on Ajrakh textile techniques

  • National Gallery Of Modern Art,  Bengaluru, October 2017
    Lalit kala Akademi, New Delhi, March 2017
    Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, October, 2016
  • This exhibition is scheduled to travel to different countries from 2018 onwards


Re-Contextualising Azrakh Traditions in Contemporary Art and Craft

Introduction: Exploring salt as a symbol of non-violence and investigating the Sarvodaya theory in the practice of nonviolence, tolerance, peace and harmony through the narratives of swadeshi politics, these works will draw upon the history of India’s colonial past and Mahatma Gandhi’s 1930 Dandi March, which began the Salt Satyagraha and became an important part of the Indian independence movement.In her new series, ‘Salt: The Great March 2013’, artist Shelly Jyoti explores the possibilities of establishing alternative societies where Gandhian ideals of ‘swadharma’ and ‘sarvodaya’ could be adhered to and sustained with sincere implementation. In a society where patriarchal values threaten the free existence of women, the artist feels that re-introducing Gandhian ideals with critical changes would function as a correctional force.

This new complimentary body of works is a continuation of Jyoti’s earlier series, ‘INDIGO Neel Darpan’. Neel Darpan (1860) is a literary text, symbolic of yet another anti-colonial, nonviolence movement that took place in 1917-18 as ‘champaran’ movement for indigo farmers in India.

Shelly Jyoti’s new works feature a large khadi fabric with Sanskrit calligraphic print as a site-specific installation, two sculptural installations of khadi yarn (aatis) and pipe cleaners, twenty-five contemporary artworks with azrakh dyeing/ printing incorporating needlework on khadi fabric and multimedia is spoken poetry. View the series: https://shellyjyotiblog.wordpress.com

  • Azad Bhavan Gallery, Indian Council of Cultural RelationICCR, New Delhi (2015)
  • The Heritage Museum DakshinaChitra, Chennai(2014)
  • India International Centre IIC, New Delhi (2014)
  • Indira Gandhi National Centre of the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi(2013)

Making of ‘Salt’ series:


Project by Indian Council of Cultural Relations, New Delhi
curatorial projectIntroduction: Indian textiles were a principal commodity in the trade of the pre-industrial age and were prized for their fineness in the weave, brilliance in color, rich variety in designs and a dying technology which achieved a fastness of color unrivaled in the world. Indian cotton had achieved global reach by trade dominating the world’s textile market during the sixteenth century. As a curator of this show, I had proposed to categorize the collection of 37 traditional. Indian textiles and a large site-specific installation in three categories of painted printed, woven-non-woven, embroidery, and embellishments. Further investigated the global influences on new materials, machine spun yarn for hand loom cotton and synthetic dyes for vegetable and mineral dyes .The role of Indian government after independence as how Indian textiles sustained with new techniques, technology introduction, research on documentation and yet conserving the traditions.
Curatorial Essay: The Splendid Indian Textiles: Cotton|Cloth|CultureMuscat , Oman 2015 (Upcoming)
Mekong Ganga Cooperation  Asian Traditional  Textiles Museum, 2013-15
Siem Reap City , 17251, Cambodia

Care Package 2012- Group show




Introduction: Inspired by Marcel Mauss book “Gift”1923 which notes the expressions of love that helps balances the power of relationships in the tradition of reciprocity and gift exchange. Shelly Jyoti’s ‘Reciprocity of love: shagun’ investigates the idea of the embroidered geometrical design of the traditional’phulkaree‘ embroidery of North-western India. Thereby, expressing love in matrilineal fashion in the traditional patriarchal society. Further exploring the same idea in today’s contemporary world with gender equation altering traditional dynamics –familial, societal and cultural. Further examining, the other traditions of gifts,give & take’ like monetary shagun, as blessings to loved ones in decorative handcrafted envelopes. Symbolically, the expression of universal love and gift giving is a part of the unwritten social contract that embodies strong cultural, socio-political, and economic codings. Curated by Ombretta Agró Andruff in collaboration with the artists.

The core group of artists includes Shelly Bahl from New York and Toronto, Shelly Jyoti from New Delhi India; Laura Kina from Chicago; Saira Wasim from Chicago; American Cambodian Anida Yoeu Ali from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

  • 2012 Twelve Gates Art Gallery, 305 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
  • 2013 India International Centre , New Delhi ,India

View the series


Two Woman show

Introduction: “Not a chest of indigo reached England without being stained with human blood”, an Englishman in the Bengal Civil Service is said to have commented. In the 19th century, Bengal was the world’s biggest producer of indigo but today, the deep blue color of indigo is synthetically created in a lab and is associated, in the West, with blue jeans more than its torrid colonial past. But indigo holds a sustained presence in the post-colonial identity of India. Employing fair trade embroidery artisans from women’s collectives in India and executing their works in indigo blue, Indian artist Shelly Jyoti ‘s new works draw upon India’s history, narratives of immigration and transnational economic interchanges. Between 2009-2011 the works in this series traveled to five venues in India and the U.S. as part of a two-woman show Indigo: Laura Kina and Shelly Jyoti.

2013 November-Gandhi Memorial Centre , Washington DC, USA
2013 January -until April 27 2013 – Chicago Cultural Center – IL USA
2011 May Diana Lowenstein Gallery Maimi USA
2011 January Art exchange Gallery Seattle USA
2010 Nehru Center Worli, Mumbai, India.
2009 Open Palm Court Gallery, India Habitat Centre New Delhi India
2009 Red Earth Art Gallery, Baroda, Gujarat India.

Overview | View Series
Download e-catalog | Video 2009- Documentary of Works

Beyond Mithila
Beyond Mithila 2008-11

Introduction: Cultural theorist David Harvey believes that “Heritage is, in fact, not specific to the modern world but has always been with us. He sees it as human condition, and suggests that every society has relationship with past –“even those who have chosen to ignore it and it’s this relationship with the past that individuals and group use, evoke and distort in the general process of living. This happened three thousand years ago and just as it happens now.” Shelly Jyoti’sBeyond Mithia: Exporing the Decorative’ series are like fantasy of heritage, patterns and confluence of traditional art forms ,references of embroideries and embellishments from India. To further explore and reinterpret indigenous decorative traditions is actually like revisiting the past. ‘These series are all about a spiritual experience in the 21st century of the art that belonged to the 7th century.My quest to translate the folk art with contemporary theme is conscious. It is this relationship of folk art that enables me to understand the past and theorise the present within my art premises.’Says the artist .The rendering on the contemporary themes like “Woman: The three Generations” are done with inks and acrylics on hand made and Waterford sheets. These artworks have been published by Sahitya Akadmei-Indian English literature sections and ‘shringara’-a recent book by Dr Alka Pande. Between 2008-12, these works have traveled as solo shows in different venues in India and USA :

  • Woman Made Gallery Chicago IL USA
  • Anne Lyod Gallery Decatur IL USA
  • Jamaat Art Gallery Mumbai
  • India Habitat Center New Delhi
  • Taj palace New Delhi
  • United ART fair 2012

View Series