Part of preparing a meal in miniature, Jai Arun Ravine takes inventory before setting up a shot

Using the outdoor setting of North Mountain, Jai Arun Ravine tells family stories of West Virginia

“I specialize in sunny side up eggs, Swiss rolls and layer cakes, tea time sets, crone witches with familiars, mischievous cats, kimchee buffets, and noodle bowls.” Jai Arun Ravine’s (Charleston, WV) miniature kitchen scenes of clay polymer evoke the intimacy of domestic family routines, food, eating, and a relationship to their mother who recently passed. Jai notes that sculpting has been a kind of grief-work: “I find that working with my hands on such a small scale helps to ground me in my body as I work through my grieving process.” Using the natural outdoor and indoor settings of North Mountain, Jai stages the miniature figures in scenes to shoot in stop-motion photography, telling short personal narratives. Jai’s sculpting practice departs from a long career in dance and writing. Interested in how materials retain the trace of the body, movement, and time, Jai began experimenting with 3D modeling. They model the figures and objects using childhood memories and family photographs.

Jai is making West Virginia their home again for the first time since leaving fifteen years ago. In June they will travel to the Yew Mountain Center in Pocahontas County to further their interest in outdoor work, foraging, and garden practices. Contemplating their new and old relationship to the state, they remark, “My time at North Mountain is the beginning of a path. I’m asking myself, How does my artmaking relate to my social practice? How can I bring it in conversation with social justice? Food justice? Racial justice? I want to find a way to reckon with the state I’m from and find a way to make change here.” To see more of Jai Arun Ravine’s work, visit jaiarunravine.com.