The Radford University Art Museum recently received a donation of twenty-three paintings from the Mithila region of northern India.
The collection includes Dalit artist Urmila Devi’s “Dusadh Procession” (pictured above), which was acquired in memory of Norma L. Bowles through a donation made by the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. The work of art is being temporarily displayed in the dean’s suite at the College of Visual and Performing Arts, but plans are for it to eventually be on permanent display in the Center for Adaptive Innovation and Creativity.
The Berkeley-based Ethnic Arts Foundation presented as a gift twenty-two additional paintings from Mithila in support of two simultaneous Radford University Art Museum exhibitions planned for September 2022: “Raja Salhesh’s Garden” to be guest curated by John H. Bowles and “Martine le Coz: A French Homage to the Ancient Myths & Contemporary Artists of Mithila, India” to be jointly guest curated by John H. Bowles and Hélène Fleury.
Among the donated works are several paintings by Martine le Coz, who, in 2016, was inducted into the Legion of Honor, France’s highest order of merit for both civil and military conduct. Le Coz is cherished in France as the author of numerous novels and other publications. Since 2013, she has published four books inspired by Mithila art and culture containing exquisite, original illustrations that have not been exhibited. Some of the donated works include le Coz’s portraits of artists who advised her on Dalit art, mythology and traditions.
An inaugural symposium honoring Mithila’s Dalit painters is planned to kick off the exhibitions, complete with an illustrated catalogue of scholarly essays by David L. Szanton, Wendy Doniger, Hélène Fleury, Kaushik Kumar Jha and John H. Bowles. It will include recognition of the Ethnic Arts Foundation, which will be celebrating 42 years of advancing the scholarly study and public appreciation of contemporary Mithila art.