Indian-born U.S. artist Siona Benjamin works in a visual language that conveys her transcultural, transnational view of the world. She was raised Jewish in predominantly Hindu and Muslim India, while being educated in Catholic and Zoroastrian schools. She now lives and works in New Jersey.
Her art amalgamates styles, religions, languages, mythologies and iconographies. Influences on it range from ancient Indian and Persian miniatures to Sephardic icons and contemporary graphic novels. The work seeks to provoke reevaluation of misconceptions about identity and race that can lead to racism, hate and war.
“Very often I look down at my skin and it has turned blue,” Benjamin says. “It tends to do that when I face certain situations of people stereotyping and categorizing other people who are unlike themselves. I have therefore over the years developed many blue-skinned characters in my paintings. This blue self-portrait of sorts takes on many roles and forms, through which I theatrically explore ancient and contemporary dilemmas.”
An artist talk will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in Lundring Events Center.
A painting workshop will be held from 2:15 to 4 p.m. Thursday, March 22, in William Rolland Art Center, room 213. The theme of the workshop is "Finding Home." Visitors are encouraged to bring photocopies of documents and other items related to their families, cultures and religions, and to be open to inspiration from sources including ancient stories, with the goal of creating work that speaks to the stories in their lives.
Admission is free. RSVP by March 1 for the talk and workshop.
The gallery, located in William Rolland Stadium, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.