Fresno State India-Madhubani Art Workshop Study Tour

INDIA - MADHUBANI ART WORKSHOP STUDY TOUR - Dec. 27, 2010 to Jan. 12, 2011 ARTICLE IN UNIVERSITY JOURNAL of the Califorina State University, Fresno, February 2011:

Sponsored by College of Arts & Humanities, California State University, Fresno. - Course: ART 109T India Tour (There were 11 Students and 7 community members in the group + 2 chaperones: Professor Joan Krejcar Sharma & Brijesh Sharma)

The experience I had traveling and studying in India was eye opening and life changing. The opportunity to experience what I experienced was a true gift, and I will appreciate it for my entire life. I learned so much about the history and the culture of India, and how its transferred to everything they do, including their art. The art of Madhubani was so inspiring and life changing, and also very unique as the artists put their best effort into their art. One afternoon we were able to try our hand at the art. We were each given about two lessons by the students on how to create some borders with designs in them using Mithila art design elements. I was taught how to create a geometric pattern, a fish pattern, and a flower pattern. We used a quill pen and black ink, which I have used in the past in illustration class, so the tools were familiar to me. It was hard for me to draw free hand without penciling the design out before hand, but I did the best I could and it turned out well. Everything is done free hand, there is no sketching beforehand, which is the opposite from what I have learned in my own art classes. Even though we wanted to stay longer, we had to leave as the sun went down because there were no lights in the room. The most important thing that I learned from this workshop was to slow down and be more focused on what I was doing, rather than to rush and get the work done so that I could go on to the next element. I wanted to express once again that I really enjoyed going on the India trip and I will always remember it. Alysha K., student participant in Fresno State Study Tour 2010

We had such a great trip, full of wonderful memories and beautiful images. Thanks so much to you. Mike & Jamie B., Fresno State Art History Student (now a Professor of Art History) and her husband

Since we were visiting the weavers of Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, I chose to use this as my starting point as there are many textile traditions in India that fascinate me. Our itinerary had us spending a little time in a Varanasi weaving factory, so it seemed prudent and efficient to keep my interest focused here. Once arriving in India, however, it was challenging to keep focus honed on Varanasi weaving as the Taj Mahal, and the incredible amount of craftsmanship and artistry, was nothing short of amazing! There is no recorded imagery that can replace the light that eyes experience with semi-precious stone and marble. Rhonda K.,

Student participant in Fresno State Study Tour

After a short stopover in Dubai the Fresno State Study Tour group arrived by Emirates flights from Los Angeles in Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

Our next day's sightseeing included a stop at Emperor Shahjahan's Red Fort on our way to the Emperor's Jama Masjid in old Delhi (Shahjahanabad).

We visited the Crafts Museum in New Delhi to view the Kohbargarh (matrimonial chamber) painted by Madhubani artist, Ganga Devi and works of other Mithila painters. (Unfortunately this mural does not exist any more as it was destroyed during renovation of the building). We also saw the traditional wood carvings and home exterior & interior decorative elements from various regions of India apart from other traditional crafts from all over India.

Next we visited the 2nd. Mughal Emperor Humayun's mausoleum that was constructed in the reign of Emperor Akbar under the supervision of Emperor Humayun's widow, Haji Begum.

We later stopped at India Gate memorial and saw the government office buildings designed by the British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker on our way to Qutub Minar.

GoAir flight to Patna, visits to the birthplace of the last Guru of Sikh religion, Guru Gobind Singh (birthday Dec. 22, 1666) on his 343rd. birthday anniversary and Vaishali - the archaeological site of the town that Buddha visited often in his lifetime. Amrapali, a beautiful courtesan in Pataliputra used to live in Vaishali and she became one of the earliest female disciples of Buddha. Vaishali being on the route of Buddha's wanderings from Pataliputra to Kushinagar. It was in Vaishali that Buddha predicted his Mahaparinirwana (passing) before he reached his last earthly destination.

5-Day Painting Workshop at Mithila Art Institute in Madhubani, Bihar. About 30 students are selected from about 300 competing artists for a one year free education in traditional Mithila Art. About 5 best students later are offered an additional one year of free education.

The Mithila Art Institute is financially supported by the Ethnic Arts Foundation - Our students were given a thorough background information and practical demonstrations of Mithila painting both on paper and its original style on the wall. Later Fresno State students got an opportunity to make their own Mithila paintings assisted by students of Mithila Art Institute in Madhubani.

We later visited the remains of beautiful palaces of the erstwhile Maharaja of Darbhanga at Jayanagar on the border of India with Nepal. As the palaces and temples were in a military protected zone, special permission had to be taken for the visit. The commander of Border Security Force in the area welcomed us and provided guides to take us to various prominent architectural sites in Jayanagar.

While in Madhubani, India Traveller, celebrated the birthdays of two participants in Mithila Art Institute as well as in Madhuyamini Hotel. A private vocal and instrumental Indian classical music concert with seven artists was organized for the group in our hotel on the new year's eve.

In Patna the participants visited the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library that houses over 250,000 books including original, ancient manuscripts from Moorish Sultanate court in Cordoba, Spain and the courts of various Mughal Emperors. Rare original Mughal manuscripts were taken out of the archives for our group and large scale projections of other important miniature paintings were shown to our group on a large screen with comments from the director of the Museum/Library.

In Varanasi the participants experienced the Ganga Aarti at the Ghats in the evening from a boat in the river. Later there was another boat ride on the Ganga river at sunrise to view the Hindu pilgrims at the morning prayers. We visited the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple on the way to Bharat Kala Bhawan Art Museum of the Banaras Hindu University. In the afternoon there was an excursion to Sarnath - birthplace of Buddhist religion - Buddha preached his first sermon here more than 2555 years ago.

From Varanasi the study tour group took a Kingfisher Airlines flight to Khajuraho for sightseeing of the Hindu and Jain temples that were built by the Chandela Rajput rulers between 9th. and 12th. centuries CE. We visited the Varaha Avatar, Lakshman Temple and Kandaria Mahadeo Hindu temples as well as all the Jain religion temples.

After a short drive the study tour group visited the Orchha Fort of the Bundela Rajput rulers and the Jahangir Mahal inside it on their way to train station to board the Shatabdi Express train from Jhansi to Agra.

In Agra the Study Tour group visited the world famous Taj Mahal and Agra Fort.

Later in the evening an Indian classical music concert was organized exclusively for the group with Dr. Lovely Sharma on Sitar, Dr. Debasis Chakroborty on Indian Guitar and Vilas Palkhe on Tabla. There was a discussion on Indian Classical Instrumental Music subsequent to the concert.

Mughal Emperor Akbar's Fatehpur Sikri, the capital that was populated for only 14 years and deserted for more than 400 years was the last sightseeing stop for the Fresno State Study Tour.

The College of Arts & Humanities of California State University, Fresno's Study Tour included eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India: (1) Qutub Minar, (2) Jama Masjid and (3) Red Fort in Delhi, (4) Sarnath near Varanasi, (5) Khajuraho Hindu & Jain Temples, the (6) Taj Mahal and (7) Fort in Agra and the deserted capital of Emperor Akbar at (8) Fatehpur Sikri.

This study tour was the second one that India Traveller operated for College of Arts & Humanities of California State University, Fresno. From Dec. 25, 2006 to Jan. 6, 2007 India Traveller operated the Art & Culture of Northern India Study Tour in which there were 31 participants, Professor Joan Sharma and Brijesh Sharma co-directed this study tour which included following places: New Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur, Nimaj Castle & village, Jodhpur, Ranakpur, Udaipur and Deogarh Mahal Palace & village.

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