Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World

Thursday, May 16, 2019Sunday, October 6, 2019
Curated by Lauren Schell Dickens, curator at San José Museum of Art, and Jodi Throckmorton, curator of contemporary art at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

The world as burnt fruit - When empires feuded for populations and plantations, buried in colonial and ancient currency a Gharial appeared from an inky melon - hot with blossom sprang forth to swallow the world not yet whole as burnt fruit, 2009 Fans, feather, cowry shells, resin alligator, skull, globe, glass vials, light bulbs, gourds, steel wire and Japanese mosquito nets, 90 x 253 x 90 inches. Collection Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World on view at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. On view at SJMA May 18–Oct 6, 2019.

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is the first mid-career retrospective of the artist’s work. Co-organized by the San José Museum of Art and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the exhibition presents almost twenty years of Banerjee’s large-scale installations, sculptures, and paintings—including a re-creation of her work from the 2000 Whitney Biennial; sculptures featured in the 2017 Venice Biennale; and recent work for the Prospect 4 New Orleans biennial.

Banerjee creates vivid sculptures and installations made from materials sourced throughout the world. She is a voracious gatherer of objects—in a single sculpture one can find African tribal jewelry, colorful feathers, light bulbs, Murano glass, and South Asian antiques in conflict and conversation with one another. These sensuous assemblages reverberate with bright colors and surprising textures present simultaneously as familiar and unfamiliar.

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World focuses on four interdependent themes in Banerjee’s work that coincide with important issues of our time: immigration and identity; the lasting effects of colonialism and its relationship to globalization; feminism; and climate change.

Exhibition Catalogue

A full-color, 160-page catalogue was co-published by SJMA and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art on the occasion of this exhibition. It illumines the crossover contexts in which Banerjee works—as an American artist, a native of India, a global citizen, and a feminist. It includes full color illustrations, a detailed chronology of the artist’s life and work, and essays by co-curators Lauren Schell Dickens (SJMA) and Jodi Throckmorton (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art); Rachel Kent, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and writer Allie Biswas.

Available at the Museum Store

Artist Biography

Born in Calcutta, India in 1963, Banerjee grew up in London and eventually moved to New York. She received her BS degree in Polymer Engineering at Case Western University in 1993 and took a job as a polymer research chemist upon graduation. She left the science profession to receive her MFA from Yale University in 1995. Banerjee’s work has been exhibited internationally, including but not limited to New York City; Paris; London; Tokyo; Los Angeles; New Delhi; Milan; Singapore; and notably an installation at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC in 2013. The artist’s works are also included in many private and public collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Queens Museum, New York City; and the Brooklyn Museum, New York City. Her work was recently featured in Viva Art Viva at the 2017 Venice Biennale and Prospect.4 in New Orleans. Rina Banerjee currently lives and works in New York City and Philadelphia.

Exhibition Schedule

San José Museum of Art (May 16, 2019–October 6, 2019 )

Co-organizer Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (October 27, 2018–March 31, 2019)

Travel Venues

Fowler Museum at University of California, Los Angeles (December 8, 2019–May 31, 2020)

Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennessee (July 24–October 25, 2020)

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina (February 18–July 11, 2021)


Sponsored by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, the Lipman Family Foundation, Tad Freese and Brook Hartzell, Marsha and Jon Witkin, Melanie and Peter Cross, Cheryl and Bruce Kiddoo, McManis Faulkner, Latham & Watkins, Shruti and Pawan Tewari, Peggy and Yogen Dalal, Elaine Cardinale, and Lisa and Keith Lubliner.

Additional support provided by Christie’s, Wanda Kownacki, Glenda and Gary Dorchak, Pamela Hornik, Elena Lebedeva and Alvin Smith, Rachel and Simon Segars, and Sotheby’s.

Supported, in part, by a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San José.