This exhibition draws together a diverse array of artworks and cultural artifacts from the subcontinent of South Asia, providing a brief historical overview of this region by way of its visual and material culture. Generally, South Asia encompasses the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. However, national boundaries are a relatively recent development and shadow the complex histories that led to their modern formation. While limited in scope, this exhibition nonetheless attempts to unpack some of the deeper, entangled narratives that continue to inform social, political, and cultural spheres in the present tense.
Drawing from both the collections of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and the Michigan State University Museum, the exhibition is composed of paintings, manuscripts, sculptures, embroidered fabric, and cultural artifacts. Much of the content presented is religious in nature, which in part acknowledges how different—at times, competing—religious belief systems exerted great force in the shaping of individual and collective life in the region. Yet the inclusion of everyday objects points to the more subtle ways in which values are shared and spread. Taken altogether, the exhibition begins to describe the complex negotiations that continue to mold and shape the region of South Asia.
Epic Stories and Cultural Flux: A Brief Visual History of South Asia is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Steven L. Bridges, Assistant Curator. Support for this exhibition is provided by the MSU Broad’s general exhibitions fund.