Many Visions, Many Versions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India

September 18, 2017

Sept. 22–Dec. 10, 2017

Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery will be the first stop on a North American museum tour ofMany Visions, Many Versions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India.

The exhibition opens Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, and features works from the Gond and Warli communities of central India, the Mithila region of Bihar, and the narrative scroll painters of West Bengal. Many Visions, Many Versions is organized by BINDU Modern Gallery, and is toured by International Arts & Artists (IA&A), Washington, D.C. The exhibition was curated by Drs. Aurogeeta Das and David Szanton with assistance from curating consultant Jeffrey Wechsler.

“India is increasingly a bigger and bigger player in the world’s geo-political scene,” said Faulconer Gallery Director Lesley Wright. “This travelling installation is a great opportunity to learn more about the cultural traditions of the sub-continent, while also contributing to Global Grinnell, the College’s mission of global education.” Grinnell enrolls a high number of students of South Asian heritage, including 46 from India.

Many Visions, Many Versions is on view through Dec. 10 and encompasses 47 paintings by 24 artists. One of the artists represented in the exhibition, painter and singer Swarna Chitrakar, will be in-residence Oct. 3–9 to offer public demonstrations of scroll painting from her native Patua artisan community.

The exhibition paintings — on paper, canvas, particle board, and fabric — are divided into four broad categories: myth and cosmology, nature, village life, and contemporary explorations. They demonstrate responsiveness to contemporary global concerns, as well as deeply rooted cultural traditions.

  • Gond tribal art includes mud wall and floor paintings portraying deities and symbols from nature.
  • Warli tribal art, which uses only red/brown and white pigments, depicts human relationships to deities and nature through use of triangular and hourglass-shaped figures.
  • Mithila regional art uses vivid pigments with cow dung and mud to illustrate global events.
  • And scrolls from the Patua artisan community refer to mythological and religious themes and socio-political issues.

As contemporary practitioners, the artists also use their traditions to address challenges such as HIV/AIDS, tsunamis, women’s rights, and pollution.

A number of Faulconer Gallery programs have been developed to support understanding of India’s art and culture, including:

Gallery Talk: Modernism to Indigenous Arts in Post-Independence India
Sept. 22, 4 p.m.
Umesh Gaur and Sunanda Gaur have one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary Indian art in the world, including the art in this exhibition.
The collectors will introduce artists in their collection and provide context for the rise of modernism at the time of Indian independence in 1947, and the subsequent recognition of modern indigenous traditions.
Opening Reception
Sept. 22, 5–6 p.m.
Refreshments will be served.
Museum Day Live!
Sept. 23, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Faulconer Gallery will participate in Smithsonian magazine’s national day of recognition for the role of cultural institutions to inspire creativity, inspire curiosity and pursue knowledge.
Yoga in the Gallery with Monica St. Angelo
Mondays and Thursdays, Sept. 25–Dec. 14, 12:15–12:50 p.m.
No yoga Oct. 16, Oct. 19, and Nov. 23.
Enjoy a free 30-minute yoga practice of warming and invigorating poses and a final period of relaxation.
All levels welcome. Mats provided. Co-sponsored by Live Well Grinnell.
20 Minutes @ 11 with Timothy Dobe
Sept. 26, 11 a.m.
Timothy Dobe, associate professor and chair of religious studies at Grinnell, will speak about works in the exhibition based on his research in comparative religions. Dobe will publish a book this year about Hindu and Christian holy men (faqirs) of colonial north India.
Artists @ Grinnell Residency: Swarna Chitrakar
Oct. 3–9
Swarna Chitrakar is a member of India’s Patua community of painter-singers who travel from village to village recounting stories and legends in song while revealing scroll paintings.
Chitrakar has participated in major festivals in Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America, sharing her scrolls and songs, which explore current socio-political issues including HIV/AIDS, child trafficking, and women’s empowerment.
She will be accompanied by translator Suravi Sarkar.
Co-sponsoring these events are Grinnell College’s Institute for Global Engagement and the Departments of Religious Studies and Music.
Demonstrations and Conversation with Swarna Chitrakar
Oct. 3, 3–5 p.m.
Oct. 5, 2–4 p.m.,
Oct. 6 and 9, 3–5 p.m.
Gallery Talk: Swarna Chitrakar
Oct. 4, 4 p.m.
The painter-singer will speak about the development and content of her work.
Community Day
Oct. 7, 1:30–3 p.m.
Enjoy demonstrations by artist-in-residence Swarna Chitrakar, plus storytelling and hands-on activities.

For more information about related programs in late October and November, visit Faulconer Gallery.

Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week (closed Nov. 23, Thanksgiving Day), and admission is free. The Faulconer Gallery is in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell.

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