Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World

Reflections upon the splintered experience of identity, tradition, and culture within diasporic communities

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is the first in-depth exploration of the contemporary practice of artist Rina Banerjee, co-organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and the San José Museum of Art (SJMA).

Though Banerjee’s work has been shown extensively in Europe and South Asia, PAFA and SJMA will be the first North American museums to delve into the artist’s complex and fanciful worlds. Bringing together several of Banerjee’s monumental installations in conversation with 15 to 20 of her sculptures, as well as a selection of works on paper, Make Me a Summary of the World will transform PAFA and SJMA into otherworldly and multi-sensory spaces.

Known for her large-scale sculptures and installations made from materials sourced throughout the world, Banerjee’s works investigate the splintered experiences of identity, tradition, and culture, prevalent in diasporic communities. Using a variety of materials ranging from African tribal jewelry to colorful feathers, light bulbs, and Murano glass, Banerjee’s art celebrates diversity at the material level. These sensuous assemblages present themselves simultaneously as familiar and unfamiliar, thriving on tensions between visual cultures and raising questions about exoticism, cultural appropriation, globalization, and feminism.

In turn, her wider practice challenges current nativist political leanings by proposing a multi-faceted nature of identity; not based exclusively on a person’s culture of origin or gender, but instead on self-identity. These inclusive and freeing conceptions of the “self” manifest themselves throughout Banerjee’s ever-evolving work – in fragmented figures, riotous use of color, and symbolic materials. Paired with her thought-provoking and poetic titles, Banerjee’s works relentlessly query contemporary modes of artistic production and societal engagement.

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is accompanied by public programming throughout the run of the exhibition and a full-color, 160-page exhibition catalog, co-published by the San José Museum of Art, featuring essays by Jodi Throckmorton, Lauren Schell Dickens, and Rachel Kent, with an interview of Rina Banerjee conducted by Allie Biswas, and a chronology, researched by Laurel V. McLaughlin.


Exhibition Schedule

Co-organizer San José Museum of Art, California (May 18 - October 6, 2019)

Travel Venues:

Fowler Museum at University of California, Los Angeles (December 8, 2019 - May 31, 2020)

Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennessee (July 24 - October 25, 2020)

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (February 18 - July 11, 2021)


Related Programming

For Freedoms Town Hall: Art, Citizenship and Engagement
Thursday, October 18 6:00 pm

Educator’s Workshop: Rina Banerjee
Saturday, October 27 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Book Discussion: Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me?
Saturday, November 3rd 2:00 pm

Visiting Artists Program: Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Friday, November 9th 12:00 pm

Toward a More Global Philadelphia
Saturday, November 17 2:00

We’re All A Summary of Our Worlds: Three Dialogues
Saturday, December 1 1:00 - 4:30 pm

Family Arts Academy Free Sunday Workshops

October 28: Gourd Animals 
November 4: Boxed World
December 16: Lights, Wrapping, Assemble 

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