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Embodied Change: South Asian Art Across Time

Jan 14 – Jul 10 2022

Seattle Asian Art Museum

South Gallery

Spanning a period from the third millennium BCE to today, the works in this exhibition offer transformational and compelling images of the human body. Most of the artists depict the female body, using the form in myriad ways: as an object of veneration, as a mode of self-representation, and to question the safety of public spaces.

Within the canon of South Asian art, a typical and potent subject is Devi, the great goddess who holds immeasurable sacrality and strength. In modern and contemporary art, South Asian-identified artists have reacted against traditional norms and challenged gender, national, and social stereotypes. Some have reoriented the exemplary and fierce model of the goddess. Others have attended to new subjects, selecting everyday townspeople—such as fisherwomen and local schoolgirls—to be the protagonists of their work.

Each of the artists in the exhibition invest the human body with the power to question social, political, and normative fictions. By doing so, they invite you to explore the complexities of the human body: to contemplate and question which bodies are conferred with greater degrees of humanity and perhaps to imagine, with the artists, different ways to embody change.

Major Sponsors
Blakemore Foundation
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation
Mimi Gardner Gates Asian Art Endowment

Additional Support
Contributors to the SAM Fund

Phulsajayya: Lotus Clad Rama and Sita, ca. 1730, India, Punjab Hills, Basohli, opaque watercolor on paper, 21.54 × 16.2 cm, Private collection. All rights reserved.

Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish and the customary territories of the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Peoples. As a cultural and educational institution, we honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future. We also acknowledge the urban Native peoples from many Nations who call Seattle their home.

Learn more about Equity at SAM