Matthew Shenoda is a writer and professor whose poems and essays have appeared in a variety of newspapers, journals, radio programs and anthologies. He has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his work has been supported by the California Arts Council and the Lannan Foundation among others.
Shenoda lectures widely and has taught extensively in the fields of ethnic studies and creative writing. He has held several faculty and administrative positions at various institutions and is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. Additionally, Shenoda has served on the Board of Directors of several arts and education organizations and is a founding editor of the African Poetry Book Fund. He lives with his family in Evanston, Illinois.
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.
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.
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 as an Artist in Residence at the Spudnik Press Co-operative and teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
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, peformative, 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.
Ronnie Malley is a multi-instrumentalist musician, theatrical performer, producer, and educator with a background in Global Music and Performance Studies. His recent credits include author and composer of the original play Ziryab, The Songbird of Andalusia (Silk Road Rising World Premiere), musician in The Secret Garden (Court Theatre), musician and consultant on Disney’s The Jungle Book (Goodman Theater, Huntington Theater), associate producer, composer, and actor in The Sultan’s Dilemma (International Voices Project), co-composer on Mary Zimmerman’s The White Snake (Wuzhen Theater Festival, Old Globe, Guthrie, Goodman, McCarter, Berkeley Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival), author and composer of the story The Oud, Ziryab, and Andalusia: An Enchanting Tale of Music (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Chicago Cultural Center), actor and principal musician in Arabian Nights (Lookingglass, Berkeley, Arena Stage Theatre) and film composition for At the Gate, Modou: The Hang Player, and Jon and Davy. Ronnie has also produced the albums Auraad Fathiya, Saazuk Safar, Tsikago,
and Gypsy Surf through his company, Intercultural Music Production, and has appeared as a guest artist on several musical works. He conducts Arabic language artist residencies for Chicago Public Schools and is a teaching artist of music and theater with Global Voices Initiative. Ronnie is also a faculty member at the Old Town School of Folk Music and Chicago Academy for the Arts, as well as a veteran artist with Chicago Arts Partnership in Education. He performs with the music groups Allos Musica, Turath Ensemble, Lamajamal, Surabhi, and the University of Chicago Middle East Music Ensemble.
George Lawler is an accomplished percussionist and instrument maker who began his career in Chicago over 20 years ago. He has been playing drum set for 32 years, and is an accomplished player of the 3 main percussion instruments of the Middle East and Mediterranean region: Darbuka, (goblet drum), riq, (Classical Arabic Tambourine) and bendir, (frame drum.)
His specialization in Middle Eastern, Balkan, Turkish, and Greek percussion began in the mid 90’s as an apprentice to master Tunisian percussionist, Najib Bahri. Through this mentorship, George learned the nuances of Classical and folkloric drumming styles of the Middle East, and North Africa.
In 2004 George formed the group “Lamajamal” with Ronnie Malley and Joey Spilberg. Lamajamal has since performed at many Arabic, Turkish, Balkan, and Greek events, and become familiar with a wide variety of music from these regions.
George’s continued studies brought him to Istanbul where he studied under a student of the great darbuka master Misirli Ahmet, inventor of the Turkish “split-finger technique.” He had an in depth immersion into Turkey’s folk, and Roma music when Lamajamal was the backing band for Turkish Clarinet virtuoso Selim Sesler in 2010.
George has played darbuka on a US tour with Belgian/Egyptian pop star Natacha Atlas, and a European tour with Albuquerque’s “A Hawk and a Hacksaw.” He has performed percussion workshops at schools and universities and is a music director for the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society in Chicago.
Abhisek Lahiri is one of the youngest top-notch sarod players of All India Radio & National Television–Kolkata. His sarod recitals blend three major gharanas (schools) of sarod playing: Shajahanpur, Senia Maihar & Senia Bangash gharanas. Abhisek’s two solo albums “Sparkling Sarod” and “Mood of Puriya Kalyan” received nominations in the Global Indian Music Awards (GiMA) of Mumbai in 2010 & 2013.
When inborn talent and devotion to music come together they must inevitably give birth to an artiste like Subrata Bhattacharya. A tabla player of note on the Indian classical music scenario, Subrata is amazingly talented and his accomplishments and achievements in the field of percussion music have earned him name and enviable fame.
Subhi is a singer, songwriter, composer based in Chicago. She was born in New Delhi and moved to New York when she was 16 years old. Subhi began her career working as a music assistant on Monsoon Wedding Broadway show in New York. She went on to work as a composer, songwriter, lyricist, and vocalist for acclaimed short and independent feature films in U.S., which were well-received in the film festival circuit. She has composed and written songs for Bollywood movies including national award winning director, Nila Madhab Panda’s film ‘Kaun Kitney Paani Mein’. Recently, she has composed for leading Indian digital platforms, including The Viral Fever (TVF) and Yash Raj Films (Y-Films).
Joaquin Garcia is a renowned professional pianist, masterclass lecturer, recording artist, instructor and music director. He is a national and international touring musician with projects in China, South Korea, Indonesia, and Mexico. Mr. Garcia received a full tuition scholarship to attend Columbia College Chicago as a dual major in composition and performance in classical piano performance. Later he was offered a full scholarship to Northwestern University for my Masters in Jazz Studies. After graduating from the program with honors in 2014, he expanded his professional working base and performed throughout the country including Chicago, New York City and Miami.
A graduate of Loyola University New Orleans (BM Jazz, Minor in Philosophy, Magna Cum Laude, 2011), and Northwestern University (MM Jazz, June, 2013), Gustavo CortiÃ±as has developed a successful career in the US for close to a decade, leading and accompanying ensembles in renowned stages and festivals in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Europe. Born and raised in Mexico City, Gustavo started drumming at the age of 10. In 2010 CortiÃ±as was awarded the Gerry and Franca Mulligan Foundation Scholarship for his outstanding development and achievement in jazz at Loyola University. In 2013, he released his debut record “Snapshot” which earned him critical acclaim internationally. Since then he has been performing regularly in Chicago, and touring throughout the USA, Latin America, Europe and Asia. He has become one of the in demand drummers of this musical city.
Born in Southern Illinois, Ivan Taylor has been playing the bass since he was nine years old. He had an illustrious high school career, playing with the Illinois All-State Jazz band, The Grammy Band, and Chicago Jazz masters Von Freeman and Orbert Davis. Mr. Taylor was a star performer at the 2002 Essentially Ellington competition where he met Wynton Marsalis. This meeting led him to enroll in the Juilliard School of Music. Since 2005 he has been a member of Mulgrew Miller’s trio and sextet Wingspan touring internationally. He has the ability to play both Upright and electric bass with equal agility. Ivan also plays the guitar at a exceptional level which he plans to feature on future albums
Gunjan Kumar is a Professional Artist born and raised in Punjab, India. She has keen interest in age-old methods, archeology, textiles, pre-historic and tribal art and has traveled extensively exploring her interest in these areas.These experiences forms the undertone of her artistic practice. Self taught in arts, she uses ground earth minerals and organic matter as her core mediums. They are meticulously applied on Japanese paper, using a self-developed technique inspired by traditional methods. She currently lives and works in Chicago. www.gunjankumar.com
Ms. Kiran Chouhan is a gandha-bandh disciple of the legendary kathak maestro Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj. As an artistic director of the iRadha Dance Company, Ms Chauhan is an accomplished Kathak Dancer and incorporates the Kathak dance style in her classical, semi-classical and modern choreographies. Ms. Chouhan epitomizes the beauty and grace of the Lucknow Gharana, amalgamated by intricate footwork and delicate abhinaya.
As a renowned choreographer and teacher, Ms. Chouhan has performed globally, in Europe, Russia and Asia and is a leading exponent of the art form in the United States. She has choreographed and trained dancer in the Indian Film Industry such as Madhuri Dixit in films Dil to Pagal Hai and Devdas to name a few.
Anuradha Roy’s latest book, Sleeping on Jupiter, won the DSC Prize for Fiction 2016 and was nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2016. It has been nominated for various other literary prizes, including the FT/ Oppenheimer Prize, Hindu Prize for Best Fiction 2015, the Tata Book of the Year Award 2015, and the Atta Galatta Bangalore Literature Festival Fiction Prize 2015. She won the Economist Crossword Prize for her second novel, The Folded Earth. Her first novel, An Atlas of Impossible Longing, has been widely translated and was picked as one of the Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post and the Seattle Times. It has been named by World Literature Today as one of the 60 most essential books on modern India and was shortlisted for the Crossword Prize. Anuradha Roy won the Picador-Outlook Non-Fiction Prize in 2004 for her essay, “Cooking Women”. She works as a designer at Permanent Black, an independent press which she runs with her husband, Rukun Advani. She lives in Ranikhet, India.
“Having a passion for fashion from a young age, Shruti Kirti attended The School of The Art Institute of Chicago and graduated with a BFA, concentration in fashion design. During her time at SAIC she interned with local designers, which resulted in an interest to start her own women’s ready-to-wear clothing line, SHRUTI KIRTI (www.shrutikirti.com). Shruti’s natural gravitation and enthusiasm for minimalist and modern design is thoughtfully blended into her garments, along with inspiration from her native culture from Rajasthan, India.
Because of her strong background in garment design, Shruti has become the fashion director of the Eye on India festival. She works closely with festival partners as well as fashion design students each year to create the best educational programming and events.”
Srikanth Reddy grew up in Chicago. He earned an AB from Harvard College, an MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa, and a PhD in English literature from Harvard University. He is the author of the collection of poems Facts for Visitors (2004).
Reddy employs a variety of forms, including syllabics, terza rima, and the prose poem; his poems are collage like in their variety and inclusiveness. Facts for Visitors was in part composed when Reddy was away from home, and in an interview he described the book as being about the idea of home. Matthew Miller, reviewing the collection for Double Room on webdelsol.com, observed: “Reddy’s gravitational center is Southern India, but the poet’s collecting gaze circles out to Europe and further west, involving a host of references.”
Reddy’s awards include fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and the Mellon Foundation. His poems have appeared in the anthologies Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (2004) and Isn’t It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger American Poets (2004).
Reddy is the literacy director for the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Trust in Bhimavaram, Andhra Pradesh, India. He teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Chicago.
Karan Mahajan has already established himself as a literary voice to be reckoned with. His debut novel, Family Planning, was a chosen by NPR’s “On Point” as a Best Book of 2008 and was a Dylan Thomas Prize finalist in 2010. A graduate of the Michener Center for Writers, Mahajan is now a regular contributor to the New Yorker online. This March, Mahajan returns with THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL BOMBS: A Novel (Viking; On Sale Date: March 22, 2016; ISBN: 978-0-525-42963-0; $26.00), a novel about the way bombs have infiltrated our collective consciousness, which has been gathering praise from acclaimed writers such as Adam Johnson, Dinaw Mengestu, Rachel Kushner, and Norman Rush, and has landed on 2016 anticipated book previews from The Millions to Buzzfeed.
Amitava Kumar is the author of several books of non-fiction and a novel. His essay ‘Pyre,’ first published in Granta, was selected by Jonathan Franzen for Best American Essays 2016. Kumar is the Helen D. Lockwood Professor of English at Vassar College. This year he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Non-Fiction.
Guillermo RodrÃguez, Writer and Cultural Activist, is the founding director of Casa de la India, a pioneering cultural centre in Spain, which has become a model for India’s cultural diplomacy abroad. A passionate traveller, he lived in India in the 1990s and specialized in modern Indian poetry in English, obtaining a PhD in English from the University of Kerala and the University of Valladolid. He publishes regularly critical essays on Indian literature and culture and is the author of When Mirrors Are Windows. A View of A.K. Ramanujan`s Poetics (OUP, 2016)
Megha Ralapatioversees the Jackman Goldwasser Residency at Hyde Park Art Center, an initiative that brings international and regional artists to Chicago to deepen engagement between local and global art practice. Formerly director of Bose Pacia in New York, Megha has developed independent curatorial projects, including “A Perfect Human” at Dorsch Gallery in Miami (2009), “Double-Jointed” at Scaramouche gallery in New York (2012), and contributed to “New Narratives: Contemporary Art from India” at the Chicago Cultural Center (2007). She has presented at School of the Art Institute (Chicago 2012), Eyebeam Art + Technology Center (New York 2012) and as a participant at the Incheon Biennial (Korea 2011). Megha received an MA in Visual Culture from Goldsmiths (2010) and a BA in Art History from Columbia University (2004) and is a contributing editor at Art Asia Pacific magazine. Her recent writing has been included in publications, Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic (2015 Brooklyn Museum), Black Sun (2014 Devi Art Foundation) and Manual for Treason (2011 Sharjah Art Foundation).
Fine Arts Researcher Shaurya Kumar, a Delhi native, has been involved in research projects such as The Paintings of India and Handmade in India since 2001. His research typically focuses on the separation of “the virtual and the real” as well as the “appreciation and appropriation of new media.” His work highlights how a site can affect an art piece and how an art piece can affect an individual and a culture. His projects have been showcased globally and in prestigious art galleries such as Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (Mumbai), Seoul Museum of Art, New Art Center (New York)and the Los Angeles Center for Digital Arts. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Print media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Founder and artistic director Ery Mefri established Nan Jombang Dance Company in 1983. Under his leadership, the company has performed throughout Indonesia and has presented worldwide at major venues. Coming from a West Sumatran tradition, Nan Jombang’s work employs many aspects of Indonesian martial arts, creating robustly physical work that remains a culturally specific expression. In addition to performing mainstage works, the company offers workshops, residencies, and collaborations, providing dance education for children and teenagers and teaching local school children in villages located far from Padang,Nan Jombang’s city of residence. Nan Jombang has a strong history of producing socially engaged work.
Eri Mefri: Founder, Artistic Director, and lead choreographer for Nan Jombang
Eri was born into a family of artists who have strong understanding and convictions about tradition: his late father, Jamin Manti Jo Sultan, was known as the traditional dancer with strong traditional roots, and his mother, Nurjanah, is a gold thread weaver.
As a choreographer working in contemporary movement, Eri is rooted in the Minangkabau custom. In each of his works, the strong element of tradition becomes spirit, the very specific spirit in movement nuance, and the technique becomes “Alam Takambang Jadi Guru” (Nature is spread as teacher). Minangkabau tradition, nature and values inform his choreography as Eri questions and examines the existence of modern and traditional elements.
Eri’s core point of view toward the tradition itself encompasses the normalcy of human daily movement, which is made as smooth as the water flow until it becomes soundless. Eri says, “As a choreographer, music is a breath from the dancing creation that I transfer through dancers.”
Natya Dance Theatre, under the artistic leadership of Hema Rajagopalan, is one of the most critically acclaimed and culturally treasured Indian dance companies in the United States. Rooted in Bharata Natyam, one of the great classical dance forms of India, Natya preserves and perpetuates Bharata Natyam in all it’s classical rigor, and moves the art form in innovative directions to foster cultural exchange through dance. Natya’s contemporary interpretations incorporate dynamic body movement, rhythmic footwork, hand gestures and facial expressions to convey meaning and emotion that seek to create rasa, aesthetic experiences that spiritually transform audiences worldwide.
Natya Dance Theatre celebrated its 40th anniversary in their 2014-15 season.
Dr. Sunita Vatuk is a mathematician, math educator, former Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellow, and professor at the City College of New York. She spent several years in Tamil Nadu studying connections between kolams and mathematics, culminating in a research project on the mathematical thinking of women who are expert kolam-makers. She interviewed over 80 kolam experts and south Indian mathematicians for that project, and learned hundreds of kolams. Along the way, she created many kolam-inspired activities for her own students as well as for math teachers, and has given workshops on these in art museums, universities, and schools in the U.S. and India. Her book Exploring Kolams and Mathematics Together will be published by the international-award-winning art book publisher, Tara Books, in 2016.
The Company Theatre (TCT) was formed in 1993 with a singular commitment to theatre and the performance arts. It is an ensemble of professionals who work with an inter-disciplinary & multi-cultural approach to diverse art forms, rooted in a search for the truth of human experience.
TCT has since created performances ranging from physical mime and absurdist drama to clown narratives and musical comedies. These productions have travelled to audiences from historical venues like the Globe in London UK to theatres in small towns of India. Alongside performances, TCT has also conducted workshops and master classes, organized theatre festivals and contributed to developing an energized performance culture around India.
With a firm belief in inter-disciplinary methodologies for artistic growth, TCT has also formulated platforms for dialogue with architects, scientists, business houses, environmentalists and individuals from other fields of expertise. In order to continually explore new modes of expression and share creative knowledges, TCT actively seeks collaborations with diverse cultural bodies and artists with varied backgrounds, skill sets and interests.
The Company Theatre’s need to focus on research and intensive process work for creating new performance languages led to the making of TCT Workspace, an international residency for performing arts, situated in the countryside of Maharashtra. TCT Workspace is a facility for individual artists as well as company ensembles to experiment, innovate and explore in a dedicated residential performing arts laboratory. TCT is a not-for-profit organization, registered as a public charitable trust with the charity commissioner Mumbai, India.
Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India. He is the author of Wild Kingdom, The Long Meadow, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, and 3 Sections winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. His poems, essays and reviews have appeared in the American Scholar, the Nation, the New Yorker, the Paris Review, the New York Times Book Review and BOMB among other publications and anthologies. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Vidya Shah is a musician and writer from New Delhi, India. She was initially trained in Carnatic music, and later received guidance in the North Indian genres of Khayal (from Shubha Mudgal and Mujahid Hussain Khan), Thumri Dadra and Ghazal (from Shanti Hiranand). She has performed both nationally and internationally, including at the Tansen Samaroh in Gwalior, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC and The Asia Society in New York. A popular performer and a prolific composer, she is the recipient of the Charles Wallace Award and a Senior Fellowship from the Government of India for her project ‘Women on Record’, a performance highlighting the contributions of the forgotten women performers in the Gramophone era. She also writes and speaks on music and is the author of Jalsa: Indian Women’s Journey From the Salon to the Studio.
A skilled maestro of Rajasthani folk singing and Instrumental music, “ChuggeKhan”, derives the rich pedigree of Manganiar Family which is a Muslim community in the desert of Rajasthan, India in the districts of Barmer and Jaisalmer. The Manganiars consider themselves descendants of the Rajputs and are renowned as highly skilled folk musicians of the Thar Desert. Their songs are passed on from generation to generation as a form of oral history of the desert. Chugge Khan is nothing but the true personification of those spiritually rich arts. The rich levels of Mangniyar singing and instrumental music peeps perfectly well through his sonorous singing as well as music. Chugge has mastered traditional Rajasthani instruments like Morchang, Khartal and Bhappang. Besides he is well equipped with sharp skills of a writer/lyricist of Rajasthani Folk songs. Not only Rajasthani folk but Chugge has a great command over Sufi, Punjabi and fusion music. He has evolved with passionate singing of devotional music, which may be Bhajans or Qawwalies.