Surrey Art Gallery: Delve deeper into indigenous art from India with leading experts


Many Visions, Many Versions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India

Panel Discussion: March 4 | 2:30−4pm

Indigenous (Adivasi) art from India is a growing interest in the contemporary art world. Surrey Art Gallery invites you to explore why and what it has to teach us in a discussion panel on Sunday, March 4 from 2:30 to 4pm that corresponds with their feature exhibitMany Visions, Many Visions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India. The speakers are Sirish Rao, Director of Indian Summer Festival, Vancouver; Indu Vashist, Executive Director of the South Asian Visual Arts Centre Toronto; and Katherine Hacker, Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of British Columbia. This conversation will be moderated by Jordan Strom, Surrey Art Gallery Curator of Exhibitions and Collections. A performance by Metro Vancouver Bengali folk artists from TAAN will kick off this free event.

The speakers will discuss the importance of indigenous art in India today. In addition to focussing on the work of individual artists and art traditions in the exhibition, the panelists will also address some key themes such as myth and cosmology, nature’s depiction in both real and imaginary ways, and the centrality of village life in these artists’ images. They will also discuss similarities and differences between indigenous art in India and North America and frame the relationship of the Adivasi artists to the larger Indian culture and history.

Surrey Art Gallery is the only art gallery in Canada to host the travelling exhibition Many Visions, Many Versions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India that runs until March 25. This collection of over eighty boldly coloured and vibrantly patterned paintings features the work of twenty-four contemporary artists from four major indigenous artistic traditions in India: the Gond and Warli communities of Central India, the Mithila region of Bihar, and the narrative scroll painters of West Bengal. The paintings are deeply rooted in traditional culture yet are vitally responsive to the world at large.

About the Speakers


Sirish Rao

Sirish Rao is a writer, producer, and cultural curator with deep connections to the international cultural world. Born and raised in India, Sirish is the former Director of the award-winning Tara Books, widely recognized as one of India’s finest publishing houses. He has authored twenty books, from commentaries on street art to children’s books and retellings of Greek plays. Sirish has worked with some of the world’s leading art institutions including the Paul Getty Museum, Museum of London, National Institute of Design, Ahmedadad, Musee du Quai Branly, and Kunsthal Rotterdam. Since co-founding Vancouver’s annual Indian Summer Festival, Sirish has been responsible for introducing some of the world’s most noted contemporary artists to Vancouver.

Indu Vashist

Indu Vashist is currently the Executive Director of SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre). She was born and raised on Coast Salish Territories, on the land of the Cowichan peoples, where her community, the Punjabis, have been settled for over a century. Prior to working at SAVAC, she had been equally splitting her time between India and Canada. In Canada, in addition to working at Concordia University, she programmed and hosted a weekly South Asian arts and culture radio show. In India, she worked with artist, queer, and feminist circles in Delhi, Bombay, and Madras. She is also a published writer.

Katherine Hacker

Katherine Hacker is an art historian at the University of British Columbia. Her teaching and research focus on South Asian art, architecture, and visual culture. A 2014 article, “‘A Simultaneous Validity of Co-existing Cultures’: J. Swaminathan, the Bharat Bhavan, and Contemporaneity,” and other publications on “tribal” art, exhibition practices, and contemporary urban artists and their engagement with the “folk idiom” explore the strategic deployment of visual vocabularies to address change. She regularly presents conference papers in North America and India and has served on the executive committee of the Centre for India and South Asian Research at UBC as well as on the Board of Directors of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute.

This event is presented with community partners Indian Summer Festival Vancouver; University of British Columbia’s Centre for India and South Asia Research (CISAR); the 2018 South Asia Colloquium of the Pacific Northwest (SACPAN); and the Bandish Network.

Many Visions, Many Versions is curated by Drs. Aurogeeta Das and David Szanton with assistance from curating consultant Jeffrey Wechsler. The exhibition is organized by BINDU modern Gallery and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. 

Surrey Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the City of Surrey, Province of BC through BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and the Surrey Art Gallery Association.

Surrey Art Gallery is located at 13750-88 Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada. 604-501-5566 |

HOURS: Tues-Thur 9am-9pm | Fri 9am-5pm | Sat 10am-5pm | Sun 12-5pm | Closed Mondays and holidays.