Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is the first in-depth exploration of the contemporary practice of Bengali American artist Rina Banerjee, co-curated by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the San Jose Museum of Art.
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.