Birmingham Museum of Art & UAB's Department of Art and Art History Lecture: Testing Boundaries, Women Artists in India and Pakistan Today

Lecture: Testing Boundaries: Women Artists in India and Pakistan Today, by Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker, Professor of Asian Art History at Mills College

Birmingham Museum of Art, Steiner Auditorium

Presented by UAB’s Department of Art and Art History & The Birmingham Museum of Art


Women Artists have been a strong force to be reckoned with since the mid-20th century in India and Pakistan. With a sense of independence and purpose, they have been keen observers of the cultural, social and political rifts that have divided their nations. In the installations, video art and paintings of Arpana Caur, Nalini Malani and Kanchan Chander, the tragic consequences of Partition are revealed; while the social dislocations of populations impacted by urban growth are explored in the art of Arpita Singh, Navjot and Meera Devidayal. Hamra Abbas and Adeela Suleman investigate serious social issues with a subtle sense of humor. Yet it is the diasporic artists who are the acute observers and critics of both worlds, as can be seen in Annu Palakunnathu Matthew’s photography, Rina Banerjee’s installations, and especially in Zarina’s work in which she responds to the tragic political problems that are occurring throughout the world with an aesthetic sense that often belies the serious nature of her work.

Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker, Professor of Asian Art History, holds the Carver Chair in East Asian Studies, and is Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Mills College.  She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley.  Her early work focused on classical Indian and Indonesian art for which she wrote on and curated exhibitions including The Image of Women in Indian Art, and Myths and Symbols in Indonesian Art. Since the mid-90s, she has been working with women artists in India. In 1997, she curated Women Artists of India: A Celebration of Independence, an exhibition that was part of the Festival of India that celebrated India’s fifty years of independence from British colonial rule. In 2001, she curated the first retrospective of Zarina Hashmi’s art. She has written extensively on Indian women artists, and written and curated exhibitions of Asian American artists. In 2012, she was an NEH fellow at the Institute for Asian American Art, New York University.

She is a founding member of SACHI (Society for Art and Cultural Heritage of India) and serves on the Advisory Committee for the Society for Asian Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. She also serves on national and international art organization boards.

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