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PEM Celebrates the Art the Culture of India

Released February 21, 2008

Atrium Alive:India

Salem, Mass.-On March 14, 15 and 16, the Peabody Essex Museum again welcomes the colorful sights and sounds of Holi, India's annual spring festival, with an array of exciting programs. Atrium Alive: Indiafeatures artist demonstrations, music performances, film screenings and hands-on art activities for the entire family. Highlights include Anita Ratnam, one of India's leading dance icons, and a screening of the award-winning film Vanaja.

Held in conjunction with two ongoing PEM exhibitions - Gateway Bombay and Of Gods and Mortals - the weekend explores Indian tradition and its connections with the present. (Exhibition descriptions below.)

Atrium Alive: India is made possible in part due to the generosity of The Desai Family Foundation, Samir and Nilima Desai and the Lowell Institute. Unless otherwise noted, all programs are included with museum admission.

Friday, March 14

Painting Workshop | Indian Miniature and Gold Leaf Paintings
1 - 4:30 pm | Art Studios

Reservations by March 12

$75 members, $90 nonmembers

With artist Siona Benjamin, create a contemporary work of art that draws inspiration from Indian and Persian miniature painting. Learn watercolor painting techniques and gold leafing. All materials supplied by the museum.

Saturday, March 15

Artist Demonstration | Indian Miniature Watercolors
11 am - 4 pm | Atrium

Siona Benjamin is a painter, originally from Bombay, now living in the United States. Her work reflects her background of being raised Jewish in predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. She combines the imagery of her past with the roles she plays in America today. Watch Benjamin and try painting with watercolors in the miniature painting style.

Performance | Dance Katha with Anita Ratnam
12:30 and 3:30 pm | Atrium

Indian dance icon Anita Ratnam explores streams of movement and ritual traditions connected with her training in Bharatanatyam, classical dance from South India. She uses her own experience and the full canvas of a woman's world to paint her original dance-scapes. At PEM, she presents Dance Katha, a program that incorporates classical and contemporary storytelling and dance.

Drop-in Art Activities
1 - 3 pm | Art Studios

Take inspiration from traditional gold leafing techniques and Indian textiles, and create your own work of art.

Films

Explore Indian art, culture and history through film. All screenings take place in Morse Auditorium. Reservations suggested by Thursday, March 13. Please call 978-745-9500, ext. 3011.

Highway Courtesans
2 pm | Directed by Mystelle Babbée

2005, 71 minutes, Hindi with subtitles

What happens when an independent-minded young girl is born into a centuries-old tradition of prostitution? Against the rich backdrop of rural India, follow Guddi Chauhan from age 17 through 23 as she struggles against tradition, family and love in hopes of accomplishing her dreams. Interviews with Bachara community women touch on love, marriage, education and AIDS.

Vanaja
4:15 pm | Produced by Latha R. Domalapalli; written and directed by Rajnesh Domalpalli
2007, 111 minutes

A spirited 14-year-old rural South Indian girl possesses an uncanny common-sense intelligence that she puts to use to improve her own lot and that of her poor fisherman father. Described by the New York Times as  “engrossing … absolutely timeless,”  Vanaja is a winner of several international awards, including the best debut film at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival.

Sunday, March 16

Artist Demonstration | Indian Miniature Watercolors

Noon - 4 pm | Atrium

Siona Benjamin is a painter, originally from Bombay, now living in the United States. Her work reflects her background of being raised Jewish in predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. She combines the imagery of her past with the roles she plays in America today. Watch Benjamin and try painting with watercolors in the miniature painting style.

Performance | Dance Katha with Anita Ratnam
1 and 4 pm | Atrium

Indian dance icon Anita Ratnam explores streams of movement and ritual traditions connected with her training in Bharatanatyam, classical dance from South India. She uses her own experience and the full canvas of a woman's world to paint her original dance-scapes. At PEM, she presents Dance Katha, a program that incorporates classical and contemporary storytelling and dance.

Drop-in Art Activities

1 - 3 pm | Art Studios

Take inspiration from traditional gold leafing techniques and Indian textiles, and create your own work of art.

Films

Explore Indian art, culture and history through film. All screenings take place in Morse Auditorium. Reservations suggested by Friday, March 14. Please call 978-745-9500, ext. 3011.

A Darker Side of Fair
1:30 pm | Directed by Deepak Leslie
2004, 59 minutes

Today in India, fairness of complexion is a benchmark of beauty: fair means “lucky”; dark means “ugly.” Women have long been burdened with the need to conform to the societal perception of the "light-skinned beauty," but even young Indian men increasingly feel the need to opt for products and processes to enhance their skin tone. With a focus on the emotional and psychological impact, this film addresses the factors that contribute to the pressures thrust upon Indian women by a society obsessed with fair skin.

Singing Pictures
3 pm | Directed by Lina Fruzzetti, Äkos Östör and Aditi Nath Sarkar

2005, 40 minutes

For generations, people in the Patua (Chitrakar) communities of West Bengal, India, have been painters and singers of stories depicted in scrolls - they unroll a scroll, a frame at a time, and sing their own compositions. Changing ways of life and competition from other media, however, have forced the Patuas to adapt. Follow a group of women who have formed a scroll painting collaborative as they paint, sing, cook, tend to their children and meet with the cooperative.

Related program

Saturday, April 5

Aniruddha Knight and Ensemble

From the Heart of a Tradition

4 - 6 pm | Morse Auditorium

Reservations by April 3

Members of PEM and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Heritage of the Arts of South Asia (MITHAS) $20; nonmembers $25; Friends of Indian Dance $50

Aniruddha Knight and an ensemble of singers and musicians premiere a fresh interpretation of South Indian classical music and dance that springs from family tradition. Grandson of the world-famous dancer T. Balasaraswati, Knight performs in the early 19th-century Bharatanatyam style, singing as he dances, every gesture musical in shape and meaning. Knight's ensemble includes dance master and vocalist Vidya Sankaranarayanan, vocalists T. Vegavahini and Usha Shivakumar, flutist T.R. Moorthy and percussionist Douglas Knight. Presented in collaboration with MITHAS. Funded in part by the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ford Foundation and JP Morgan Chase.

Related exhibitions on view now at the Peabody Essex Museum

Gateway Bombay
Through December 7, 2008

Explore life in Bombay/Mumbai through the works of 13 leading contemporary Indian artists, including Gieve Patel, Tyeb Mehta, Atul Dodiya, Nalini Malani and Sudhir Patwardhan. Drawn primarily from the museum's own Herwitz Collection, this dynamic exhibition probes the city's complex urban structure, inner realities and countless human stories.

Of Gods and Mortals, Traditional Art from India
(Ongoing)

In India, art is part of the fabric of daily life. Paintings, sculpture, textiles and other art forms are used in religious practices and to express prestige and social position. The Peabody Essex Museum has recently tripled its gallery space for Indian art in order to reveal the rich diversity of the country's artistic tradition. Featuring works from the 1800s to the present, this inaugural installation includes the delicate embroideries, fine portraits and devotional images prized by maharajas, merchants, farmers and laborers.

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PR Contacts:

April Swieconek  -  Director of Public Relations  -  978-745-9500 X3109  -  april@pem.org

Whitney Van Dyke  -  Public Relations Manager  -  978-745-9500 X3228  -  whitney_vandyke@pem.org

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