The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) has a new exhibition of works made with materials from around the world, created by a Philadelphia artist with roots around the globe.
Rina Banerjee is known for her monumental installations and large-scale contemporary sculptures.
"Made from materials sourced throughout the world so everything from feathers to cavalry shells to light bulbs to stuffed monkeys," Curator Jodi Throckmorton explains.
Banerjee was born in India, raised in the U.K. and now calls Philadelphia home. Her work explores issues of splintered identity, culture and tradition.
"Her work is very flowing and very organic," Throckmorton says.
And PAFA is hosting the first retrospective of her 30-year career.
Titled Make Me A Summary of the World, it features more than 60 works interspersed throughout the PAFA's Historic Landmark Building.
"We wanted to pull on, pull from themes in the collection that relate to Rina's work," Throckmorton explains.
A World Lost is a commentary on climate change.
"You'll notice that there's a Liberty Bell," Throckmorton says, "It's in rather close proximity to even the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building."
Viola from New Orleans tells the hidden story of an African-American woman who married a South Asian immigrant.
"They started these global enterprises of importing goods and selling them. But yet is this a story that we hear about in our textbooks? No," Throckmorton says, "Viola's a hero. When you see the piece, she's got these beautiful wings with fabric all over them."
The parachute of the piece drapes over PAFA's grand staircase but, for many visitors, the showstopper is Take Me, take me, take me... to the Palace of love.
"It is a large pink plastic Taj Mahal," Throckmorton explains. "And it's hanging from the ceiling so it floats a foot or so off the ground."
The San Jose Museum of Art in California partnered with PAFA to organize the exhibition, and that's its next stop.
"We don't see the voices of artists that were immigrants to this country in these mainstream art museums," Throckmorton says. "This is one of the moments where people can come and really be wowed by what they see."
Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World
Through March 31st
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
118-128 N Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102
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