On Nov. 10, the 20th Annual Nelson Wu Memorial Lecture on Asian Art and Culture will explore the legacy of the Festival of India, a landmark museum exhibit that paired western designers with Indian artisans from craft workshops. This year’s lecture will focus on the art of the Indian subcontinent.
Rebecca Brown, Associate Professor of Art History at Johns Hopkins University will discuss the way that the Festival of India brought together centuries-old artisanal practices with contemporary design. Brown notes that “these [workshops] are the 20th century inheritors of a long-standing, developing and ever-changing practices of creating textiles, wood carvings, furniture, stonework, metalwork, and a whole range of objects for courtly and other patrons.” By bringing Indian artists to New York for demonstrations of their techniques the organizers were “designing the future, a future they saw as driven by the handicraft skills and creativity found across the Indian subcontinent.”
Brown argues that the Festival was a “singular event” that would likely not be possible today. She hopes that people will come away from the talk “with some sense of the complex intersection of cultural, political, and economic forces that enabled these exhibitions to happen. I also hope they get to see some amazing works of art that came to fruition briefly but never fulfilled their full potential—from beautiful embroidered bedcovers to fantastically painted tents to new styles of Bernardo sandals.”
The Nelson Wu Memorial Lecture is co-sponsored by East Asian Studies and the Saint Louis Art Museum. Brown will speak on Nov. 10 at 7:00 p.m. in the Saint Louis Art Museum’s Farrell Auditorium.
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