With this year’s pandemic edition of Mother India, Gallery 5 brings the art of India to its windows for the perfect socially distanced outdoor exhibition.
Gallery 5’s month-long Mother India exhibit is back for its second year this October — but with a difference.
The gallery, located at 200 W. Marshall St, is hosting the exhibit so that it can be viewed entirely from outside the building, allowing viewers to experience the art while socially distancing outdoors.
This year’s exhibit is made up entirely of photographs. Only some of the photographs featured in the exhibit are up in the gallery windows. The rest are part of a digital collection which will be released Friday, Oct. 23.
Prabir Mehta, a musician and photographer who emigrated from India as a young child, is the curator of the Mother India exhibit.
When Mehta found himself unable to visit his family in the state of Gujarat, India this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he decided to ask photographers who lived there to submit pictures of the places he missed so much to Gallery 5’s exhibit.
“Instead of only being bummed about it, I opted to reach out to folks I know in India,” Mehta said, “and I was able to bring their art to Richmond for this art show.”
The exhibit includes photographs of Indian street scenes, people, and landscapes.
“It’s hard to take a bad photo in India,” Mehta said. “It’s just such a beautiful place. The vibrant layout of the land, the animals, the colors of the clothing, the food, the hustle-bustle of non-stop traffic. You see things that are literally thousands of years old, right next to a brand new Starbucks.”
The 2019 Mother India exhibit was in person and was mainly focused on the Indian community in Richmond. The 2020 exhibit includes Indian artists living both in India and in Richmond. It will run for the rest of October until it is taken down on Nov. 1.
A few of Mehta’s own photos are on display in the exhibit, but he says that the focus of the exhibit this year will be mainly on artists living in India.
Ankar Zalawadia, an Indian watercolor artist who illustrates Gujarat street scenes, will have his paintings on display in the exhibit.
The exhibit also includes photos of ceramics by Richmond artist Ruchi Gupta. Last year Gupta’s ceramic plates were hung up on walls, allowing people walking through the gallery to observe them up close, but this year that’s not possible.
The exhibit being visible from the outside, however, does have its benefits.
“It’s nice that it’s up on display for people who maybe weren’t expecting to see it,” Mehta said. “It’s adding a little bit of color, it’s adding a little bit of culture, to what’s been a very slow and quiet neighborhood for the past six months.”
Mehta says that he hopes the exhibit will help people who have family in India to get a taste of the culture they’re missing out on due to travel restrictions.
“There are a lot of Indian people in Richmond who are missing ties to that culture because they can’t travel,” Mehta said, “so that was an opportunity to bring some of that culture safely for them to check out as they stroll past the Gallery 5 windows.”
The Gallery 5K, sponsored by Gallery 5, is also happening this weekend. Indian architect Amrit Singh curated the route around Richmond, which shows participants interesting points of Richmond architecture. The route can either be run or walked, and is sidewalk-accessible for those in wheelchairs, according to Mehta.
In lieu of the snacks offered at the gallery last year, an Indian cooking demonstration will be featured on Gallery 5’s Patreon. Viewers will learn to make Bhaji Pav, an Indian vegan fast-food dish of vegetable curry with a bread roll. The demonstration will be given by Mehta’s mother– or, as he calls her, ‘the ultimate Mother India.’
Top Photo via Gallery 5