On June 7, a two-week photo and art exhibition by twelve former Nepali and US Fulbright scholars started at the Siddhartha Art Gallery to mark the 50 years of USEF’s establishment in Nepal.
The exhibition features works by late Lain Singh Bangdel, Ashmina Ranjit, Andrew Grabar, Kathryn Hagy, Kathryn Meyers, Kevin Bubriski, Kripa Joshi, Liz Lance, Piero Passacantando, Rachel Stevens, Taylor Weidman and William Mebane.
"The show brings together the diverse artworks of twelve former U.S. and Nepali Fulbright grantees whose pieces represent the richness of the educational exchange between the United States and Nepal," said Sangeeta Thapa, curator of the Gallery at the opening ceremony.
Inaugurating the exhibition, US Ambassador to Nepal Scott H. Delisi said, "Art exchange programme helps recognize each other’s art, and also the works are so wonderful and impressive, "I am so happy with this exhibition."
He also said that such art and cultural exchange programmes build inter-cultural tolerance.
Executive Director, USEF-Nepal, Dr. Laurie Ann Vasily wrote in his message that U.S. and Nepali Fulbright grantees’ pieces represented the richness of the educational exchange between the United States and Nepal. "It also offers an opportunity to reflect both on the philosophy underlying the Fulbright programme, and on the long history of friendship between the peoples and governments of the United States and Nepal."
The exhibition has given viewers the opportunity to observe varieties of works by artists using different media: photographs, installations, paintings and video. While the themes and subjects of the works vary in time and space, all the works on display have been done during the artist’s time with the Fulbright programme.
Among former Fulbright scholars, Bangdel has already passed away but his works are still exhibited from time to time. He (1919-2002) is well thought-out Nepal’s leading modern artist, internationally celebrated art historian, and novelist. Born in Darjeeling, India, he received his fine art degree from the government College of Fine Arts in Calcutta. Between 1948-51 he published his influential realist novels (Muluk Bahira, Maitighar, Langadako Sathi).
He went to Europe and joined the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris and his works were influenced by post-impressionist and cubist painters.
American photographer Kevin Bubriski has exhibited his photographs worldwide. His works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the international centre of photography, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Bibliotheque National, Paris. A recipient of Guggenheim Fulbright and NEA fellowship, Kevin worked for nine years in Nepal, and photographed his numerous journeys to India, Tibet and Bangladesh.
He is an author of the photography monographs portrait of Nepal (Chronicle 1993), which won the Golden Light Documentary Award in 1993, in the capital city of Nepal. Kevin Bubriski was a U.S. Fulbright scholar grantee between 1989-90.
Another senior Fulbright scholar of 2003-04 from U.S. Andrew Grabar was born in New York in 1947. He studied painting at Carnegie-Mellon University (B.F.A.) and the University of Hawai at Manoa (M.F.A.). Now he is Professor of Art at the University of Hawai at Hilo.
Grabar says, "The paintings and prints deal in an almost visionary way with primeval beginnings in nature."
He also said that these primeval forms were not primitive in stature but in nature-forms of overlying perspective; as basic mass and force line patterns of interplay between objects.
Kathryn Haggy, another senior Fulbright Scholar from the USA, is a professional artist born in Dalles, Oregon, who grew up in the pacific Northwestern United States. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from the University of Washington in Seattle, and her Master of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received the Award of Excellence in printmaking.
She recently received 2010 Fulbright Award for research and teaching in Kathmandu, Nepal as well as a 2011 South/Central Asia Regional Travel Award to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in such venues as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium, the International Print Center, New York, the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University.
The primary focus of Haggy’s 925 recent art works is an ongoing series of water images that explore natural phenomena.
Kripa Joshi, Fulbright grantee (2005-06), is an illustrator and comic artist from Nepal. She completed her BFA in painting from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India with the India Council of Cultural Relations scholarship.
After graduation, she worked as an art teacher for school in Nepal. Then, as a Fulbright grantee, she completed her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. There she started making comics and developed her principle comic character – Miss Moti. Her visual language is inspired by the Maithali folk art tradition from Nepal and India.
Another Fulbright grantee (2008-09) Liz Lance holds a bachelor’s degree in South Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and has completed post baccalaureate coursework in Nepali language, literature and culture at Tribhuvan University’s Bhishwa Bhasha campus in Nepal. She has also completed graduate work in documentary photography at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine, and was a participant at the Missouri Photo Workshop in 2007.
Liz’s professional interests include long-form multi-media documentary story telling, incorporating audio, photo and print to tell stories that challenge the mass media status quo.
Meanwhile, William Mebane, US Fulbright grantee (2002-03), grew up in South Carolina and moved to New York after finishing his MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute. A recipient of Fulbright scholarship on photography in Nepal in 2002, his work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times Magazine and Esquire.
He works collaboratively on documentary-style projects with Martin Hyers. Their work has been included in numerous exhibitions in the U.S. and in Europe.
Another artist, Kathryn Myers is currently a US Fulbright Senior Scholar Regional Researcher (2011-12). She received her B.A. in art from St. Xavier College in Chicago and her MFA in painting from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is a painter whose work has been strongly inspired by Indian art and culture.
She has organized several exhibitions of South Asian art in the United States. In 2002 she was awarded a Fulbright grant to India. She currently has a Fulbright Fellowship to study contemporary art in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Piero Passacantando, a U.S. Fulbright student grantee (2009-10), has received a BFA in 2001 from the Corcoran College of Art and Design and an MFA in 2009 from the California College of the Arts with a concentration in social practice, a field which explores the possible points of contact between the visual arts and the social dimension.
He has participated in many national and international exhibitions. He has also been involved in various educational and collaborative situations. He currently lives and works in New York.
Ashmina Ranjit was also Nepali Fulbright grantee (2004-05). She is an interdisciplinary visual artist, who received her MFA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Art, New York, USA. She holds a BFA from University of Tasmania, Australia as well as from Tribhuwan University and is a well known name in Nepali contemporary arts for her groundbreaking and innovative installations and live art performances, as well as video installations, paintings, drawings and sound.
Her art style has undergone tremendous transformation. For her, art is a community process and she asks questions about what qualifies as a form of art and who are creators of art forms.
Rachel Stevens is also a U.S. Fulbright Senior Scholar (2006-07). She has been teaching sculpture at New Mexico State University since 1994. A native of the northeast, she received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and MFA from Syracuse University.
Rachel’s love of art has served as a flying carpet of sorts, inspiring travels to many countries around the world, including her Fulbright grant to Nepal in 2006.
And Taylor Weidman is another American photographer and Fulbright grantee based in Kathmandu. He worked with a number of international NGO’s to cover issues in developing countries. His coverage of overcrowding in the penal system of the Phillippines was recognized by the Anthropographia Award for Photography and Human Rights and was exhibited in London, Geneva, Montreal and New York. His coverage of homeless families in Romania won the New Talent Award at the Annual Travel Photographer of the Year competition.
After completion of his Fulbright grant, Taylor plans to found the Vanishing Cultures Project – a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting endangered cultures and funding cultural preservation projects within them. All proceeds from print sales will go towards this project.
Fulbright grantees’ works have taught lessons to the viewers, art readers and also to other scholarship holders to show their talent, skill and intelligence. Still Nepalese Fulbright grantees have taught more to individuals who forget their homeland and their responsibilities after competition of their study in foreign countries; the works on the display should be taken as a lesson of life.
(Source: The Rising Nepal)