Oglethorpe Launches Celebration of India’s Art and Culture

Dr. Rebecca Brown, curator of the exhibit, shows a piece from Souza.  “This exhibit features the works of India’s greats—imagine the Picasso of Indian art.”

In recent years, modern Indian art has shed the label of merely decorative art to become a genre that is  recognized the world over for its high economic and aesthetic value.  As a result of  India’s developing economy, international interest in modern Indian art has developed the once overlooked art into a sought after,  multi-million dollar market—one that has made its way to the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art.

Beginning March 15, OUMA will host more than 50 works from 28 of India’s most famous artists, including Francis Newton Souza, Sakti Burman, and Seema Kohli.  The exhibit, titled Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest, features modern and contemporary Indian artwork from the personal collection of OU alumnus Donald Rubin ’56 and his wife, Shelley, who founded the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City.

“Modern and contemporary Indian art has long been considered simply derivative of European and American art,” said Dr. Rebecca M. Brown, the exhibit’s curator, “but this show allows us to see that it has its own concerns and stands on its own as an important contribution to what modern art is—globally. These artists address important questions about what it means to be South Asian but also about what it means to be human—broad, important questions we all can relate to.”

Kamal Mitra (B. 1962), Meditation, 2007, Acrylic on canvas

With imagery from all walks of life, from the poorest citizens to dynamic deities, the works of Goddess, Lion, Peasant, Priest focuses on India’s people.  There are individual characters gazing at the viewer, men and women inhabiting spaces both urban and rural, kneeling bodies meditating and praying.  Religious diversity in India’s culture is on full display here as well, as many of the works feature symbolism from both traditional polytheistic religions as well as Christian imagery.

To help kick off the exhibition, Oglethorpe is celebrating India’s art and culture throughout the next week and beyond:

On Thursday, March 10, at 7 p.m., the Bollywood film Slumdog Millionaire will be shown in the library’s Earl Dolive Theater.

On Friday, March 11, at 3 p.m., a student-led Holi Color Festival will be held on the quad.  In India, many celebrate the coming of spring and the triumph of good over evil by playfully splashing colored dye on their neighbors. At Oglethorpe, 3000 dye-filled water balloons will be thrown by students in celebration of the holiday, followed by a traditional Indian dinner and a bonfire near Goslin Hall.  In India, people attend bonfires to commemorate the story of Prahlada, a Hindu figure who because of his unwavering devotion, was able to escape the clutches of the Demoness Holika, who tried to carry him into the fire.

On Saturday, May 12, the A Taste of India Annual Directors Gala will be held in the Museum and Library, complete with Indian cuisine and live music and dance, a preview of the exhibit, and a live auction.

On Sunday, May 13, from 2:00-4:00 p.m., the OU Museum of Art will host a free public opening reception exhibit preview.  Through May, numerous educational and culture lectures, programs, and musical events will be held in conjunction with the exhibition, which runs through May 15.

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