Mehak Jain is both an artist and a chess player. She brings the game into her work to explore human understanding and choices. The Indian artist is best known for her series of Chess Players that she released with platform Async Art.
Jain’s avatar, Stree, is a chess piece inspired by Indian traditional aesthetics. We chatted with Jain to learn more about the meaning behind her art.
What themes in chess do you bring into your art?
As many as I can. My primary intention while creating chess art is to share my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned as a chess player. When we are in any sport or game, we learn a lot about the world. We try to find meanings in little things. For me, as a kid, it was chess pieces. Even my non-chess artwork has a lot of chess in it.
Chess is centuries old, and much of your work crosses traditional boundaries of time. How does your work merge the old and the new?
I have a very traditional art background. I started doing digital artwork when I began exploring this space in March, 2020. I've always loved showing histories and myths through my work. My attempt often is to create a piece where even though the style, vibe, and the whole feel is old, the way the subjects interact with each other or with the viewers is new. For example, one of the pieces I created on Async was “Mahabharata,” which was based on an Indian epic with an 18-day battle. It had many formations from both sides of the war. On Async, I created those formations and let the owner decide which one they wanted. NFTs allow us to do interactive stuff with old stories.
You’ve minted almost 300 Chess Match NFTs. Do any stand out as favorites?
The collection is a parody, with various pairings that have involved things like memes and references to movies. One of my favorites is “Vitalik vs Satoshi,” which was a very rare combination and it came about perfectly with a fire, a flood, and a very cinematic background.
Tell me about your avatar. What is her story?
My avatar is a reference to one of my favorite chess series' called Battle Chess. It has an Indian theme and all golden pieces with a very detailed pattern design. My avatar is in the same style. She is a queen, created in gold with Indian traditional aesthetics like a sari and jewelry.
What will the role of games like chess, and more traditional art, look like in the metaverse in 20 years?
Gaming is one area which has not been explored much in the metaverse yet. Chess could be a really interesting game to utilize different token mechanics and experiment with new variants of the game. I think it’s cool to use traditional art to introduce people to different cultures. We can do the same in the metaverse – building rooms and galleries like traditional palaces, and characters in their own cultural outfits. It could be like time travel.
What was it like to design in 3D?
It was my first time with 3D, so I had to learn everything from scratch. It was a very fun experience.
How would you describe your creations?
I consider my creation as a space where you can keep yourself and evaluate your own journey. On a chessboard, we keep ourselves in one space and choose different pieces and think them through. In life, too, we are put in a situation playing different roles and making decisions. My art aims to provide those different places for a viewer to keep themselves in and think about their life and find the answers.