Stories and Art
For six weeks this spring, the South Asia Center
co-sponsored an exhibition titled “From Gods to Social Justice: Mithila Artists
Paint for Change” at the ArtRage Gallery near the SU campus. With sponsorship
from the Ray Smith Symposium and the Humanities Center at SU, ArtRage presented
24 works of Bengali scrolls (pata) and Mithila paintings from Bihar dealing
with issues of social justice as they affect lives in India.
Topics covered ranged from HIV-AIDS, plastic contamination,
‘eve-teasing’ (sexual harassment), climate change, and and the impact of
patriarchy on women’s lives. Associated events included a presentation of
Indian dance by members of the Syracuse Indian community, a screening of Blood
Leaves Its Trail, a film on the Indian occupation of Kashmir and how it effects
the lives of everyday Kashmiris, and several talks by the curators, Geraldine
Forbes, professor emerita of SUNY-Oswego and Susan Wadley, Ford Maxwell
Professor of South Asia at SU.
One of the highlights
was a visit by thirteen students from The New School. Armed with a scavenger
hunt prompt that allowed them to engage with the artwork, each student
eventually chose one painting to explain to their peers, examining both
aesthetics and content. They left planning to learn more about India in the
coming year as well as to make paintings and scrolls that dealt with issues in
their own lives.