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Vaishnavi Patil is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University, writing her dissertation on mother-child imagery from the first to the tenth century CE. Her work seeks to understand the evolution of the “mother-child” iconographic type in South Asia and shed light on little-understood aspects of the religious lives of ordinary people through the lens of gender, trans-regionalism, and trans-sectarianism. Her recent scholarship also includes writings on contemporary South Asian Art, including an essay on the Public Art Fund’s exhibition, Ancestor.

Vaishnavi was a Research Assistant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for Tree & Serpent: Early Buddhist Art in India, 200 BCE–400 CE, and contributed to the exhibition catalog. As a Research Assistant for the Digital Humanities project Mapping Color in History, Vaishnavi has contributed to research on South Asian paintings and drawings from the 15th -18th centuries and curated open-access exhibitions to reunite dispersed manuscripts virtually. As a Curatorial Assistant at the Harvard Art Museums, she prepared a gallery proposal for Southeast Asian Art and conducted historical and archival research on objects from the museum’s collection. Before joining Harvard, Vaishnavi pursued a B.A. in Ancient Indian History from St. Xavier’s College Mumbai, an M.A. in Art History from SOAS London, and an M.A. in China Studies from Peking University.