WILLIMANTIC, CT (10/07/2019) The Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will show its second exhibition of the fall 2019 semester, “The Happiness Curriculum: Art from the South Asian Diaspora,” from Oct. 17-Dec. 19. The event will kick off with an artist talk from 3-4 p.m. on Oct. 17, followed by a reception from 4-6 p.m. Six artists’ work will be shown, with their art focusing on cultures in the Indian subcontinent and the competing influence of a contemporary American society. Artists include Kanad Chakrabarti, Ruby Chisti, Swati Kurana, Ruhee Maknojia, Shayok Mukhopadhyay and Sreshta Rit Premnath. There will be four additional programs presented throughout the exhibition’s two months.

Ironically named “The Happiness Curriculum” — after a 45-minute daily meditation initiative in Indian schools — the work addresses issues such as violence, borders, exclusion and cultural rootlessness. The art tells stories of war and a clear longing for stability and peace, making the point that “happiness” can only be achieved when justice prevails. The six artists present their pain throughout their pieces, with the message clear that meditation is meant to tame these emotions. The art will also provide an insight to the complicated path that art history has taken within the Indian subcontinent.

The talk on Oct. 17 from 3-4 p.m. will feature all six artists. The exhibition will be diverse, not only showing traditional art, but also the documentary “Gautam & Buddha,” directed by Mukhopadhyay. Khurana will present a series of posters titled “Freedom. Safety. Now.,” which protests sexual violence. Chakrabarti will present anonymous life forms and meaningless actions, tying them together with challenging theoretical references. Premnath will show his sculptures, which deal with the question of space and how we occupy it. Makhojia’s work will lend insight into the tranquility and shelter that was offered to scholars by Persian gardens. Christi’s work uses worn clothes to show the emotional and physical trauma caused by conflict and war.

Four additional programs will be presented during the exhibition. On Oct. 24 at 4:30 p.m., there will be a lecture by Kathryn Myers, a Professor of art at the University of Connecticut. Myers will speak about her Indian-focused art of the past two decades, a body of work that celebrates South Asian culture. On Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Theater, there will be a film screening of “Gautam & Buddha,” directed by Mukhopadhyay. The documentary follows rural gay men, Gautam and Buddha, who are Indian traveling actors who play women. Mukhopadhyay will also be at the University on Oct. 30 at 3 p.m. to speak about his documentary films and how they are formed by experiences coming of age in Calcutta. On Nov. 6 at 3 p.m., Khurana will talk about her 2013 protest in front of the Indian Consulate in NYC with the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective against the violent sexual assault and death of Jyoti Singh, a young woman who passed away on a Delhi bus in December 2012. The conversation will be framed around the context of the #MeToo movement.

The Art Gallery is located at room 112 in Eastern’s Fine Arts Instructional Center. Admission is free. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Wednesday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday from 1 p.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. For more information, contact the Art Gallery at (860) 465-4659, visit the website at www.easternct.edu/artgallery or email Yulia Tikhonova, gallery director, at tikhonovay@easternct.edu.

Written by Molly Boucher