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Gallery at Penn College to Display Indo-American Art

Samanta Mehta Batra, 'Fragile%231 (part of a two-part series),' 2008, ink, graphite and gold leaf on mylarThe Gallery at Penn College, on the third floor of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Madigan Library, will host “Erasing Borders 2009: Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art of the Diaspora” from Nov. 13 to Dec. 13.

The traveling exhibition is an annual presentation by the Indo-American Arts Council. Curated by Vijay Kumar, the sixth annual exhibit features 27 artists whose origins can be traced to the Indian subcontinent.

Implicit in the term “diaspora” are the concepts of change and adaptation. Twenty million people of Indian origin shifted countries in the 20th and 21st centuries. Cultural dislocation generally produces unexpected and powerful results.

Indian artists who went abroad after India’s independence from British rule grappled with dual aesthetic concerns (modernity versus tradition) and with the complex issue of identity. Today’s diaspora artists are scattered across the country and are more socio-economically and religiously diverse than their predecessors. These artists are working to make themselves heard in an art world that is at once more competitive and more receptive to non-Western art than ever before.

The artists featured in “Erasing Borders 2009” take on diverse subject matter and meld Indian and Western colors and forms in many media, including painting, drawing and prints; photographs, C-prints, photomontage and video; and sculpture and installation.

An opening reception for the exhibit will take place in the gallery from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 19. Several of the featured artists will be in attendance, including Samanta Batra Mehta and Nandini Chirimar, who will offer a gallery talk at 5:30 p.m. In addition, Prachi Dalal, Indo American Arts Council dance festival director and Kathak dancer, will perform a short dance.

Batra Mehta was born in New Delhi, raised in Bombay and moved to New York in 2003. She holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in economics and information systems from the Bombay University and the London School of Economics. She has studied the aesthetics of Indian visual art at Bombay University; drawing and painting at Central St. Martins, London; and traditional Byzantine icon painting at the Prosopon School of Iconology, New York. She works in various media including traditional egg-tempera, ink on paper, photography, collage and installation.

“My art explores the idea that scientific and metaphysical disciplines share a united reality and are made up of the same constituent parts,” she says.

Chirimar grew up in India and came to the United States in 1987 to study art. She received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Cornell University and a Master of Fine Arts in painting from the Maryland Institute. Her work is a visual journal of her life, drawn from her practical, emotional and visual experiences. In her current work, she uses household and other objects to create mixed-media and sculptural work.

Exhibiting artist Antonio Alexander Puri also is scheduled to attend the opening. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Iowa College of Law, a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and English from Coe College, and he has also studied at the College of William and Mary School of Law in Madrid and at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Puri participated in a three-person exhibit in The Gallery at Penn College in 2006 and is scheduled for a solo exhibit at the gallery in Fall 2010.

“My art is my means of identifying with the universe,” he says. “Therefore, I use symbols, forms and spatial concern as a means to express my need for universality. My inspiration comes from the unity between the microscopic and the macrocosmic.”

Kathak is a beautiful dance from northern India. Dalal has performed in India and the United States and has conducted dance workshops in schools and museums. She holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Bombay University and a master’s degree in tourism administration with a focus on cultural-heritage tourism from George Washington University.

Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; and Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gallery will be closed Nov. 26-29. All exhibits are free and open to the public.

For more about this exhibit and The Gallery at Penn College, visit online , e-mail or call 570-320-2445.

For general information about the college, visit on the Web , e-mail or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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