Kali in Dundee: Indian student’s unique response to assignment

11 Dec

Imagine traveling all the way to Dundee to study anatomy, and coming face to face with the Hindu Goddess Kali. Thanks to the creativity of Tejesvini Padma, a student on the Medical Art MSc offered by the University of Dundee, this is now a probability.

Image credit: University of Dundee

Tejeswini sculpted a facial model of Kali as a part of her first-year assignment. She used recycled materials – wax, plasticine and clay, in the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD). Tejeswini said, “I’ve created the face of Kali because I wanted to create something unique. She is wearing a garland made from the skulls of her enemies and is a fierce and powerful Goddess. Using materials I found in DJCAD, I wanted to bring some of my culture from home to the studio. Behind the head is a laser cut backdrop in a pattern of hibiscus flowers, the flower associated with the Goddess.”

Students will use the sculpture to learn forensic and medical skills. Dr. Caroline Erolin, Programme Leader at the University said, “Tejeswini’s face of Kali is a wonderful depiction of an anatomically accurate head portraying rage and bloodlust and is a very different face than any we’ve seen before. Students on the related MSc in Forensic Art and Facial Recognition recreated the face of Lord Darnley but this is the first time that we’ve had a Goddess in the studio.”

Kali often terrorizes and entrances the imagination – controversial interpretations range from Heidi Klum’s Halloween costume to guest appearances on the hit TV series, Supernatural.  But, among all these, Tejeswini’s take is certainly distinct. The face of Kali is part of Tejeswini’s coursework submission. The sculpture will remain in the studio to help other students learn forensic and anatomy skills, as well as a little history.

Tejeswini said, “’Kali is represented and worshiped in various forms and also celebrated in the Navarathri festival dedicated to the divine feminine. She is depicted as blue or black-skinned and her tongue is covered in the blood of the destroyed demons. I wanted to show what the anatomy of a raging goddess would look like.” .

University of Dundee’s Medical Art MSc is designed to offer specialist training to students who wish train as medical and scientific illustrators.

Watch a video of Tejeswini talking about her response to the assignment here.


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