Indira Govindan

Naturally Made: Opium to Morphine
11″x8.5″; paper; 2022

Indira Govindan
Chennai, Tamilnadu, India


I have several advanced degrees in history and a doctorate in religious studies. My academic training in history and sociology combined with a long career in American higher education system has shaped my worldview, values and understanding of how human societies organize; whose interests politics serve and whose voices and stories are heard in historical narratives. I take a Marxian approach in the study of history and political economy and that sensibility also informs my art practice.

My mixed-media art and collages seek to critically illustrate histories and material realities of postcolonial societies. Drawing from archival and media resources in public domain, they are a realistic and objective depiction of the oppression and exploitation of the former colonies by the Western imperial powers and the post colonial wreckage that the newly independent nations are confronting while trying to provide peace and prosperity to their citizenry.

My most recent History in Collage series, called “The History of Opium”, explore the triangular trade through which England became the wealthiest nation in the 19th century through opium trade and how it forced India to be the producer and China to be the consumer of opium. There are plenty of villains in this story, both native and English; two of the collages in the series, for example, show how two men born centuries and several continents apart, made their wealth exactly the same way, that is, by trading in opioids and later whitewashing their reputation exactly the same way through philanthropy.

My next series in History in Collage will be on the history and folklore of the mighty Brahmaputra, the untamed river that straddles three nations, India, Bangladesh and China.


Indira Govindan is a retired academic administrator/faculty with a long successful career in higher education with a total of five degrees (from India and USA) including a doctorate in religious studies. She obtained her post graduate degrees in history from India’s premier universities steeped in Marxist academic traditions.

This early training in critical examination of capitalism and imperialism and their deleterious effects on the colonies has been particularly influential in shaping her collage art.

Art had always been a lifelong passion for her and since retirement she has immersed herself in becoming a full time artist. She has no formal degree in art, but she has learned from well known artists and at prestigious institutions, including advanced level courses in botanical illustration at the New York Botanical Garden and Cornell University and a year-long course with collagist Randel Plowman.

Indira enjoys learning new skills through classes and workshops and is constantly expanding her skill set which now include bookmaking, printing, jewelry making, botanical painting, papercut art and wood burning. Her art career started with painting in oils and watercolors and over time has shifted to mixed media and collage.

Indira had a long association with the mixed-media magazine Cloth Paper Scissors which had published several of her articles and artwork. Her artwork had also appeared in Uppercase magazine. She had won several prizes, including two first place finishes, in mixed-media category at the the New Jersey Senior Art Show. Her mixed-media art Civil While Disobedient was accepted into Monmouth University’s curated Artivism exhibition. She had also participated in several group exhibitions in New Jersey. Many of her
paintings and handmade books now reside in private homes all over the world.

She donates the proceeds from the sale of her arts and crafts to support physically challenged children in India. She also financially supports art related activities through her non-profit organization.

Govindan was a member of the Selection Committee for Member Shows at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey for a two-year term. In 2021, she was selected to participate in the Kolaj Institute’s virtual Money Money Collage Art Residency where she, along with several other artists illustrated Eleanor H. Porter’s 1918 novel on capitalism and its philanthropic manifestation, Oh, Money! Money!. In 2022, she was selected to participate in Photo Trouvée Magazine’s 9-week long virtual residency.

She is a committed naturalist with particular interest in tree preservation and is a certified master gardener from Rutgers University, New Jersey.

After living in the US for four decades, she now divides her time between India and the US.


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Triangular Trade
11″x8.5″; paper; 2022
Narcophilanthropy—American Version
11″x8.5″; paper; 2022
Narcophilanthropy—Indian Version
11″x8.5″; paper; 2022
Wealth of Nations
11″x8.5″; paper; 2022