American Debut

June 18, 2009

Reception 6:00 to 9:00 pm

At least since the 14th century, women in the Mithila region of the state of Bihar in northeast India have painted auspicious images on the walls of their homes. Traditionally, these paintings were done on ritual occasions, especially to celebrate marriages, and encourage fertility and prosperity. Over time several distinctive styles of Mithila painting have evolved. Then in the late 1960s the women began transferring these paintings to paper for sale. Today, woman in the region still adorn the walls of their homes with these paintings. But with the advent of newspapers, improved transportation, radio, and especially the BBC reaching into Bihar's rural villages, a small group of these artists began grappling with more contemporary subjects, drawing on their unique indigenous aesthetics. Shalinee Kumari is arguably the most progressive of these artists, producing highly narrative, vibrantly colored critical works on hand-made paper illustrating currently pressing issues such as the evils of dowry, bride burning, capitalism, inflation, corporate control of the media, global warming, terrorism, and the sexual exploitation of women. But she also does paintings on women's cricket, gender equality, and women's liberation. The artist will create fifteen new works for this exhibition, her first outside of India.