With guidance from visual artist Gowri Savoor, students received an experiential lesson in Indian culture by creating a rangoli, a sand-painting folk tradition and one of the most popular art forms in India, in the lobby of the Donahue Building.
“I wanted my students to understand how folk traditions in India continue to exist today, and how an eastern tradition and cultural memory can be transplanted to western ground and still be meaningful,” said Afshan Bokhari, assistant professor of art history at the New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University. “The students were really inspired by their own craft-making abilities and were surprised that their small contributions of laying out the rice within the design frame yielded a colorful and festive outcome.”
It took ten students from Professor Bokhari’s “Art of India” class 12 hours over two days to complete the rangoli, which is seven feet in diameter and comprised of white rice that was dyed using 13 food colorings.
In India, a rangoli is commonly done outside homes to consecrate ground and to ensure prosperity and success. The University plans to build at 20 Somerset Street a state-of-the-art home for its New England School of Art & Design. Professor Bokhari hopes that the rangoli will “bless the ground at this site to ensure the future building’s successful completion and longevity.” The rangoli was created indoors due to inclement weather.
Savoor gave a public lecture on campus to students, faculty, staff and artists from the Boston area during her two-day visit to the University.
“It has truly been a wonderful experience working with the students and people throughout the Suffolk community,” said Savoor, whose art work was also on display at NESAD. “It has been a gift for me to share my life experiences, traditions and practices with everyone.” A native of India, Savoor lives in Montpelier, Vt., where she works in her own art studio.
Savoor’s visit was sponsored by The Rosenberg Institute for East Asian Studies, the CAS Dean’s Office, and NESAD.