On Wednesday, April 4th, the Mittal Institute hosted an opening reception for its Spring Art Exhibition, “Showcasing Research in South Asia Through Visual Arts.” It features 2D and 3D art and artifacts inspired by Harvard students who traveled to South Asia sponsored by Mittal Institute travel grants. The show was curated by Sheliza Jamal (Graduate School of Education) and Neeti Nayak (Graduate School of Design). At the event, we chatted with them about the show.
How did you get involved with this showcase?
Neeti: While I was doing my research, I realized that there were a lot of art projects that were tangential to the research that I was doing. However, I couldn’t really talk about them when I was doing my thesis project. I wanted a way to showcase the arts-based side of my project, and I was sure there were other students who had similar motivations. I chatted with Amy [at SAI] and she liked the idea, and we decided to do something about it.
Sheliza: Amy [at the Mittal Institute] told me about the opportunity for an art show, and I jumped at the chance because I am interested in anything art-related.
How did you choose the theme “Showcasing Research in South Asia Through Visual Arts”?
Neeti: I’m working on a degree in master’s in design engineering, and we have a heavy focus on interdisciplinary work. To be interdisciplinary, you have to present your work in a way that is digestible by a lot of disciplines. And that’s why being visual is the most important thing [in bringing it to other audiences].
What was your favorite part of the show?
Sheliza: The images, pieces of art, and artifacts are all manifestations of research in South Asia. Reading about how [the students] were inspired to take a picture, bring an artifact back, or create an original piece of work, was the most inspiring part of curating the exhibition.
Neeti: My favorite part of the show was working with a co-curator who had a completely different perspective on things. We came together to look at the layout of the show and choose the kind of images that best represent a certain line of research.
What was the submission process like?
Sheliza: We emailed the database of Mittal Institute grant recipients, and we asked them to submit an image of either an artifact, a piece of work that they had done, or a photograph they had taken while conducting research in South Asia. They also provided a short description so we would get an idea of their research and what that visit meant to them. We wanted to include as many pieces of art as possible, be inclusive as possible, and keep in mind the different regions. We didn’t want to have everything from one country. We were pleased that the exhibit has pieces from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Nepal.