For the past nine months the Department of Art and Design has had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Ritwij Bhowmik as a Fulbright-Nehru Academic & Professional Excellence Fellow. Dr. Bhowmik serves as an Associate Professor and the Convener of the Fine-Arts Discipline for the Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences & Design Program at the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India.
While his initial research plan was hindered by travel restrictions and schedule adjustments due to the global pandemic, Dr. Bhowmik adapted and has contributed greatly to the campus community, providing many opportunities for valuable cultural exchanges. From a film series that he hosted featuring a curated selection of movies centered on different geographic areas and cinematic approaches, to countless individual conversations with students, faculty, and staff, he has brought an open and generous space for interaction and discussion.
In addition to his personal contributions to the expansion of an international understanding of art and culture in the community, Dr. Bhowmik also undertook an investigation of a new branch of artistic research during his time in the United States. This took the form of multiple paintings and drawings, and a series of thirty-six experimental sculptural “gifts” that were placed at significant cultural and geographic sites around the region. Each of these gifts took the form of a unique glass bottle containing a hand painted paper folded into the form of an origami boat. These gifts were positioned and documented at each site, and then left to become a part of the geography and narrative of that space, the people in it, and their interactions.
The Department of Art and Design was honored to have shared this new work with the community through the exhibition Message in a Bottle, and an artist talk featuring Dr. Bhowmik’s research in the Finley Gallery earlier in December.