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Literary Night at the Pizzuti Collection mixes words and worlds

The piece that will be the backdrop for the performance by Sudarshan Shetty called “For all that we lose.” Credit: Olivia Balcerzak | Lantern Reporter

Two art forms will collide for a night of literature surrounded by artwork from the Pizzuti Collection’s “Visions From India” exhibit on Wednesday.

Visions from India” is an art exhibition containing 20th and 21st century works by Indian artists. Four authors, including one Ohio State professor, will be reading works that delve into issues that the exhibit addresses.

“It’s a great opportunity to juxtapose two different art forms and see how they enhance or bring out the best in both worlds,” said Philip Kim, marketing and communications coordinator and 2007 OSU alumnus in English and comparative studies. “It’s going to be cool to hear from the authors and listen to their words while being surrounded by pieces in the exhibitions.”

Kim said that when a member of the collection suggested hosting the literary night — a first for the Pizzuti Collection — they were happy to accept. He said because “Visions From India” visually presents themes relevant to everyone — such as mobilization, globalization and identity — it made sense to find authors whose written works present some of the same themes.

“We reached out to some people that we knew whose work revolves around issues of identity and culture and the larger context of how their experience with culture affected their conceptions of identity,” Kim said. “Their work kind of deals with some of the same issues and topics that are in the exhibition.”

The four authors chosen to read are Ruth Awad, Barbara Fant, Pranav Jani and Dr. Amit Majmudar, all of whom Kim said will get to decide how and what to perform.

“We’re kind of letting them do their own thing,” Kim said. “Some of the authors’ will be able to come and see the exhibition before the event to kind of get inspiration and see what works in the exhibition speaks to them and maybe cater their performance, but there’s no real parameters.”

Jani, an English professor in post-colonial and U.S. ethnic studies said the work in the exhibition that spoke to him was an untitled piece by Subodh Gupta that features tiffin boxes on a conveyer belt.

“When I saw those tiffin carriers, first of all, I thought of all of the tiffin carriers I’ve seen in my life,” Jani said. “(It) made me think of a number of stories about my grandfather and his movement against the British in India, so I’ll be speaking about that.”

Jani said this work was among many in the exhibition intended to make people think and reflect on their own life experiences.

“The fact that it’s Indian (art) won’t make them feel different,” Jani said. “But at the same time, because it’s modern art it’s meant to jar people of any background.”

Alongside him will be Ohio’s first ever poet laureate, Amit Majmudar. The Ohio poet laureate is a representative, appointed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and recommended by the Ohio Arts Council, to promote and foster poetry at the state level by attending public readings.

Majmudar said he writes a lot about Indian religion, mythology and culture, which dovetail with the collection. While he credits learning about mythology and religion to hours spent at the library, he said most of the cultural influence came from his home life.

Majmudar said that while many of his pieces reflect his own culture, recognizing and appreciating other cultures is just as important.

“It’s important on the larger cultural sense of getting exposed to different cultures around the world, realizing that your own is one of many, and that there’s beauty to be found in every different culture,” Majmudar said. “What the Pizzuti Collection is doing right now with the ‘Visions from India’ exhibit, and has done with other exhibits and will continue to do in the future, is bring us into an increased awareness of the richness and diversity of other cultures around the world.”

The literary night will take place on Wednesday at 5 p.m. and end at 7 p.m. The event will take place at the Pizzuti Collection located at 632 N. Park St. The event is free to all students with valid BuckID and general admission is $12.
Guests are invited to explore the exhibition before and after the performance. The readings will take place on the third floor with a large, wood sculpture by Sudarshan Shetty called “For all that we lose” as the backdrop for the performance.

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