Kaveri  Raina, Hannman Mukut, Acrylic, burlap, 70 x 40 inches, 2016



n. 1. an attraction to foreign peoples, cultures, or customs

Eye on India is pleased to announce Xenophilia, an inaugural exhibition featuring a selection of recent painting, sculpture, textile and photo-based work by eight artists: Biraaj Dodiya, Alaya Gujral, Khushmi Mehta, Viraj Viral Mithani, Kaveri Raina, Udit Toshniwal, Udita Upadhyaya, Falak Vasa and the collaborative kShama.

All eight artists are students from The School of the Art Institute, both current and recent graduates, who hail from across India and have relocated to Chicago to study art, build a new body of work, translate their practice to a new public, and call the city home. Eye on India is proud to feature and support these young talented artists.

Megha Ralapati, who oversees the Jackman Goldwasser Residency at Hyde Park Art Center, is the curator and visionary for Xenophilia. Ralapati states: “Unlike its more familiar opposite, the term xenophilia is rarely used today, particularly in a global political climate characterized by fear, suspicion and aversion to the other. This exhibition imagines a different reality in which fear is replaced by curiosity. Rather than reinforce familiar dichotomies between native-born vs. outsider, center vs. margin, migration vs. stagnation, Xenophilia proposes a new world in which multiple perspectives not only coexist but amplify each other, as demonstrated by this dynamic selection of painting, sculpture, textile and photo-based work.”

This unique exhibition has been in the works for over a year. It started with a thought and conversation between Shaurya Kumar, professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Tanya Gill, Eye on India’s Visual Arts Director. Eye on India is forever grateful for the work that Kumar does to support his students, and Indian art and culture. We are all excited to see this exhibition manifest, and are already energized by the evolving conversations emerging from our exchange.


About the artists:



Biraaj Dodiya is a New York based interdisciplinary artist. She was born in Mumbai, India in 1993, but relocated to the United States for her studies. Working primarily in painting, drawing, photo and video, Dodiya’s work is rooted in fleeting feelings of melancholy, private jokes and a deep desire to story-tell in a world of strangers.

She is currently pursuing her MFA from New York University.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 3.03.10 PM

Alaya Gujral, a native of New Delhi, comes from a family of artists, architects and art Philanthropists. Her family’s involvement in the arts has exposed her to a wide range of art practices and thoughts. Gujral is a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she thrived experimenting in printmaking, ceramics, and fibers. Her current work explores the dye Indigo in unexpected ways, uniting this traditional technique with contemporary thought.

Headshot_Khushmi Chirag Mehta


Khushmi Mehta’s studio practice involves creating sculptures and installations. Currently a resident of Chicago, she is a student of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Visual and Critical Studies department. She looks for stories; imprints fleeting moments and translates them into her art. Mehta was brought up in Mumbai, India. Her work is a narration of everything she sees around herself— a reflection of this mélange of cultures. Through her pieces, she attempts to kindle a conversation about what it means to be a part of this ancient culture in a world that it is increasingly influenced by globalization and westernization.

Headshot_Viraj Mithani

Viraj Mithani is an interdisciplinary contemporary artist. His works derive from historic artistic cultures and worldly traditions. His practice floats between painting, print and sculpture. Native of Mumbai, India, he began with a traditional background in the arts. Viraj has exhibited extensively both in Europe and the Untied States. Mithani currently works and resides in Chicago, IL pursuing his art practice at the Flat Iron Artists Association and as an Artist-in-Residence at the Spudnik Press Co-operative.

Kaveri Raina was born and brought up in New Delhi, India. She has worked at the Arctic Studies Center as a photographer, with the Natural Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC. She has had several residencies including Vermont Studio Center, Arpana Caur Studios in Delhi, and most recently Ox-Bow Residency. In 2014 she travelled to Dresden, Germany on an Artist Residency fellowship exchange through the Greater Columbus Arts Council. Currently Raina is a BOLT resident at the Chicago Artists Coalition. She is being represented by Hammond Harkins Gallery in Columbus, Ohio.

Udit Toshniwal is an artist Born and raised in Mumbai, India. He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and began working in his family’s Textile business. His Professional career compliments his artistic practice, which he pursues at his studio in Bombay. The study of cultural commodities and the value they hold in a global &/ or local context is a major theme in his work. He explores these concepts both aesthetically and meaningfully through his material choices.


Udita Upadhyaya is an interdisciplinary artist and educator. She is also a researcher of human behavior and consumption. In her studio practice, Upadhyaya uses her body as a primary material. She works with the principles of Vipassana meditation to uncover the trajectories of desire, craving, trauma, shame and their many intersections. Her artistic explorations seek to illuminate those that are relegated to the background by examining subtle coercions that result in conformity and loss of identity. This conflict zone between public and private is the arena for her work: here, she navigates the fertile ground between complicity and rebellion. Upadhyaya currently lives and works out of Chicago and Mumbai.


Falak Vasa is an interdisciplinary artist from Kolkata, India, currently residing in Chicago and studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BFA 2018). His work intertwines performance, video, installation, photography and technology to investigate his relationship with ecology through the lenses of spirituality, science, mythology, philosophy and personal narrative.


kShama is an ongoing meditative, performative, live art collaboration between artists Udita Upadhyaya and Falak Vasa. The work stems from a desire to better understand our unique places in the world. Both artists are curious about relationships, they start conversations with the human other and the non human others.

The artists meet and perform every week, finding new access points into this dialogue. In their performances, the artists investigate and are often stuck inside the cycles of human emotion, the fragility of relationships, and the futility of seeking forgiveness for intentional and accidental actions.

This work is a micro-record of their studies into kShama. kShama is the Sanskrit/Prakrit word for forgiveness, pardon, patience, forbearance. The anchor of the work lies in Jain festival of forgiveness and echoes the idea of Michhami Dukkadam.


Curated by Megha Ralapati
Sept. 18 – 24
Fulton Street Collective, 1821 W. Hubbard Street, 3rd Floor
Opening Reception: Sept. 18 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Conversation and Closing Cocktail Reception: Sept. 24 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Open: Sept.19-23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment


To arrange a viewing of Xenophilia or learn more about the artists, email Tanya Gill, Eye on India’s Visual Art Director at: tanya@tanyagill.com


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Eye on India is a young and dynamic organization whose role is to serve as a facilitator and integrator. Promoting appreciation for diverse programming in the cultural landscape of Chicago, the festival’s uniqueness lies in its ability to create and inspire collaboration among various cultural, community and business organizations across Chicago and other cities in the US and India.

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