Curating “Convergence”: Art from India and the diaspora

Curator and academic Kathryn Myers tells Art Radar about the genesis of “Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora”

“Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora”, taking place at the William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut, from 14 October to 15 December 2013, features nine artists from India and six artists living in the United States and London. Curator Kathryn Myers, Professor of Art at the university, shares her experience of creating the show with Art Radar readers.

William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut (UConn). Image courtesy Benton Museum.

William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut (UConn). Image courtesy Benton Museum.

Largely drawn from the Benton Museum’s permanent collection, “Convergence: Contemporary art from India and the Diaspora” is the fourth exhibition of Indian art in the past decade to be held at the University of Connecticut (UConn). Taking place in a university setting of over 20,000 students, a locus of intellectual engagement, “Convergence” emphasises how works of art continue to act as key avenues through which we increase our knowledge of and more fully invest in the world we inhabit.

"Curating Convergence: Contemporary art from India and the Diaspora", 2013, installation view. William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut. Image courtesy Benton Museum.

“Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora”, 2013, installation view. William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut. Image courtesy Benton Museum.

“Convergence” includes work by:

Sanarth Banerjee, installation view, "Curating Convergence: Contemporary art from India and the Diaspora", 2013. William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut. Image courtesy Benton Museum.

Sanarth Banerjee, installation view, “Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora”, 2013. William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut. Image courtesy Benton Museum.

Including both emerging and internationally recognised artists working in diverse media, the varied and nuanced concept of the exhibition’s title “Convergence” is reflected in the many concepts and techniques used by artists in the show. As the exhibition catalogue states,

Convergence occurs when traditional art and mythology take on renewed relevance through contemporary content and materials. Art and social consciousness converge when the enduring resonance of colonialism, communal or global conflicts, as well as the injustices of daily life, inspire compassion and critique. Art and activism converge when an environment in transition is skillfully navigated through diverse political, personal and poetic insights.

"Curating Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora", 2013, installation view. William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut. Image courtesy Benton Museum.

“Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora”, 2013, installation view. William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut. Image courtesy Benton Museum.

“Convergence” also refers to the unique circumstances and dynamics of how the current exhibition came to be. In 2004, the Benton Museum hosted the largest exhibition in its history and the first on Indian art. “Masala, Diversity and Democracy in South Asian Art” included over 250 works of traditional, folk, popular and contemporary art, and initiated the Benton’s collection of Indian art. “Convergence” is a testament to the museum’s sustained interest over the years and to the efforts of numerous artists, scholars and friends who share intellectual, creative and deeply gratifying personal relationships with India.

Ravi Agarwal, installation view, "Curating Convergence: Contemporary art from India and the Diaspora", 2013. William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut. Image courtesy Benton Museum.

Ravi Agarwal, installation view, “Convergence: Contemporary Art from India and the Diaspora”, 2013. William Benton Museum of Art, University of Connecticut. Image courtesy Benton Museum.

The catalogue essays have been authored by former Indian Fulbright scholars and guest professors at UConn, as well as by widely known critics and curators of Indian art. Through course offerings, scholars, symposia and exhibitions, UConn programmes such as India Studies and Asian American Studies enrich the global presence and outreach of UConn. The university’s programmes also support the exhibition through related initiatives, such as a panel discussion on 19 November 2013 on the subject of the Indian diaspora in art and literature.

Visit Regarding India, established by Kathryn Myers, to watch interviews with India’s contemporary artists.

Kathryn Myers

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Related Topics: Indian art and artists, curatorial practice, art and identity, museum shows, Asian art events in the USA, emerging artists

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