Born in Mumbai in 1967, Sharmila Samant trained as a sculptor at the Sir JJ School of Art before going to acquire a diploma in interior design, a factor that has enhanced her multi-disciplinary approach. She spent four years in Europe from 1998-2002 as a resident at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam and the Gasworks at London. The experience of transition and being an outsider sharpened her views on the sweeping forces of globalisation, especially the market forces that define the cultural practices of developing economies.
As an artist, Samant offers a powerful critique of the challenges mass-produced consumer goods have on artisanal and cottage industries as well as of the homogenising effect of commodification. Her work invokes the possibilities of a counterculture, wherein local identities can be sustained by a process of hybridization, quoting from folk, traditional and classical art while contemporarising it and making it relevant to the politics of today. Her engagement with public art and art as protest has been an ongoing interest that often takes her work out of the viewing context of the white-cube gallery. However, Samant self-reflexively acknowledges that her work is part of a larger culture of art as 'consumable object' and often she tries to build in her critique of that practice as well into her art pieces.