We will take a close look at the work produced by two living women artists: Bharti Kher and Jananne Al-Ani. Kher’s dynamic and diverse works span multiple forms of media, stretch our definition of “painting” and “sculpture,” and include installation works, collage and found objects. Al-Ani works primarily with photography and video. Both artists contemplate what it means to be suspended between worlds. Kher was born and raised in a middle-class suburban environment outside London to parents who moved to the U.K. from India and Pakistan. After growing up and training as an artist there, she moved to India in 1993 and has lived and worked in New Delhi ever since. Al-Ani was born in Kirkuk, her father Iraqi and her mother Irish. She left Iraq to study in the U.K. and now lives in London. Both artists pointedly think about what it means to be both “Western” and “Eastern” in today’s world where cultural identity is both a source of strength and locus of conflict.
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Gretchen Bender is a Senior Lecturer and Assistant Chair of the History of Art and Architecture Department, and Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs at the College of General Studies for the University of Pittsburgh. She originally specialized in European art of the modern period but has since focused her research and teaching on World Art and directs the “WHAAM” initiative at Pitt – why the history of art and architecture matters – which challenges academics and the broader public to think about the role art can and should play in today’s world.