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Epic Tales Symposium




Epic Tales Symposium

Location: James S. Copley Auditorium

Saturday, June 9
9:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
James S. Copley Auditorium

Dive in to the history and scholarship of Epic Tales from Ancient India with presentations by leading academic minds in the field of Indian and Persian art, Drs. Marika Sardar, Qamar Adamjee, Alka Patel, and Daniel Ehnbom. The symposium will be moderated by Dr. Sabiha al-Khemir, founding director of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar.

$7.50 members and students | $12.50 seniors and military | $15 nonmembers | FREE for CAIS members
(CAIS members: Please contact Angela Wills Talbott or 619-696-1935)

Ticket includes admission to the Museum on the day of the Symposium.

Coffee and pastries will be served in the morning and there will be one intermission.

Sabiha al-Khemir, Ph.D (Moderator)

Sabiha is a Tunisian writer, illustrator, and expert in Islamic art, whose work is concerned with cultural bridging and cultural dialogues. She is fluent in and lectures internationally in English, Arabic and French in addition to speaking Italian and Spanish, with her multifaceted approach being widely recognized. She is known for using themes relating to the metropolitan location and identity in her literature and art.

As the founding director of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, Sabiha has been recognized for her vision in establishing a program for the museum that emphasizes the contextual place of the art as well as the educational program that began well before the museum was officially opened. She was also effective in making the collection grow with the acquisition of a number of unique works of art.

Marika Sardar, Ph.D (Catalog contributor)

Marika received her Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU (2007) with a dissertation on Deccani architecture. She worked for six years in the Department of Islamic Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she was involved with the reinstallation of 15 galleries for Islamic art (2011) and the exhibition, The Interwoven Globe: Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800 (2013).

Publications include essays on the architectural, textile, and painting traditions of the Deccan; on the Metropolitan Museum’s excavations at Nishapur, Iran; and on Safavid and Ottoman textiles. She has also written the section on South Asian art for the textbook Asian Art (2014), co-edited, with Navina Haidar, the volume Arts of India’s Deccan Courts, 1323-1687 (2011). They also co-wrote Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy, the exhibition catalog for the 2015 exhibition of the same name at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Marika wrote chapters on The Bahmanis and their Artistic Legacy, The Courtly Tradition of Kalamkaris and Burhanpur and Aurangabad. She has served as the Curator for South Asia at the Doha Museum of Islamic Art since 2016.

Qamar Adamjee, Ph.D (Catalog contributor)

Qamar Adamjee is Associate Curator of South Asian art at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco where she is curating the museum’s presentation of the upcoming exhibitions Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning (August 2013), Yoga: The Art of Transformation (February 2014) and Pearls on a String: Art and Biography in the Islamic World (June 2015). Qamar has previously worked at the Islamic department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, has taught courses at New York area universities, and also holds an MBA degree in Marketing from Karachi University (Pakistan). Qamar earned her doctorate in art history from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts in 2011 where her dissertation work studied visual narrative strategies in an illustrated Indian Sufi romance.

Qamar’s current research interests revolve around exploring dialogic relationships in Indian paintings that inform understandings of their form, function, and reception. An immersion in museum practice has also inspired her interest in finding ways to meaningfully translate the past, through art objects, in terms that make history relevant for our world today.

Alka Patel, Ph.D (Catalog contributor)

Alka Patel’s research focuses on the visual traditions and material culture of South Asia, primarily the architecture of India and Pakistan dating to the 12th through 16th centuries. Her work has benefited from current scholarship rethinking the rigidity of religious categorizations of South Asian material culture such as “Hindu,” “Jaina” and “Islamic,” inherited from a Colonial-period epistemology. Her publications have demonstrated that the 12th-16th-century buildings of South Asia transcend the historically inaccurate identifications imposed on them.

She has the singular opportunity to expand her regional and chronological expertise in a collaborative project with Dr. Karen Leonard (Professor of Anthropology, UCI), titled Building New Identities in the Diaspora: the Banking and Mercantile Communities of Hyderbad, India, 1730-1940. The project will focus on the changing regional, caste, and religious identities of mercantile and banker castes from Gujarat, Rajasthan and other areas of northern India as they migrated to the Deccan. Their work will reveal the specific translations of imported architectural practices in their new context, documenting many buildings in Hyderabad for the first time. Their combined expertise in architectural and social history will elucidate the historical extent of trans-regional networks throughout India and the mobility and adaptability of architectural and social practices.

Daniel Ehnbom, Ph.D

Associate Professor Daniel Ehnbom has taught South Asian art at the University of Virginia since 1992, and has served as the Director of the Center for South Asian Studies since 1997. He received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from the University of Chicago. He has done extensive field research in India and Pakistan. He has published several articles in South Asian Archaeology, as well as entries on South Asian art for the Grove Dictionary of Art (1996), for which he was South Asia Editor for Painting and Sculpture. Prof. Ehnbom’s publications, including Indian Miniatures: The Ehrenfeld Collection as well as seminars he has recently taught reflect his strong, continuing interest in the manuscript painting of India and in early Indian sculpture. His research interests include devotional sculptures and painting illustrating the Krishna theme, and votive plaques produced in Mathura, ca. 1st and ¬2nd centuries A.D.

Featured: Krishna returns to Dwarka after killing the murderer of his father-in-law, ca. 1800. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Edwin Binney 3rd Collection. 1990.171.


June 9
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
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James S. Copley Auditorium
1450 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101 United States
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