San José Museum of Art presents the first major retrospective of artist Rina Banerjee

Release date 
Monday, November 5, 2018

Rina Banerjee
In the Darkest Blossom was a Mythical Beast, Mythical Island, Mythical Sea, 2013
Glass, steel, shells, feather, plastic
16 × 25 feet

SAN JOSE (November 5, 2018) – The San José Museum of Art, California (SJMA) is pleased to present its major spring exhibition, Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World, the first mid-career retrospective on the contemporary practice of Rina Banerjee, co-organized with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA).

Known for her large-scale sculptures and installations made from materials sourced throughout the world, Banerjee’s works investigate the splintered experiences of identity, tradition, and culture, prevalent in diasporic communities.  

Make Me a Summary of the World will be on view to the public from May 18, 2019 through October 6, 2019 in the galleries at SJMA. It will be accompanied by extensive programming and a full-color, 160-page catalogue co-published by SJMA and PAFA. After the exhibition closes at SJMA it will then embark on a national tour.

Banerjee (born 1963) is one of the most important artists of the post-colonial Indian diaspora living in the United States and her work has been shown most extensively in Europe and South Asia. This exhibition, the first in-depth examination into the artist’s work, will consider Banerjee in both American and global frameworks, specifically in relation to Banerjee’s approach to feminism, globalism, colonialism and the environment.

Susan Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director of the San José Museum of Art, said, “We are thrilled to bring Banerjee’s monumental work to the people of Silicon Valley and the West Coast,  reiterating SJMA’s dedication to foster awareness of artists’ broad contributions to society. Banerjee’s art explores globalization, isolation, and identity—themes that reflect our community.” 

SJMA curator Lauren Schell Dickens, added: “In her work, Rina disrupts conventional notions of identity, delving into the complex territory of cultural fragmentation and self-identification, which makes her an important voice today. We’re particularly excited to be presenting this rich examination of her work in San José, which is home to so many diasporic groups of varied cultural backgrounds.”

Bringing together several of Banerjee’s monumental installations in conversation with more than two dozen sculptures, as well as a thorough selection of works on paper, Make Me a Summary of the World will transform SJMA into a multi-sensory experience.

Using a variety of gathered materials ranging from African tribal jewelry to colorful feathers, light bulbs, and Murano glass, Banerjee’s art celebrates diversity at every level. These sensuous assemblages present themselves simultaneously as familiar and unfamiliar, thriving on tensions between visual cultures and raising questions about exoticism, cultural appropriation, globalization, and feminism.  Her works are paired with thought-provoking and poetic titles that are works of art in themselves, ranging in length from 50 to 180 words.

“The exhibition on the work of Rina Banerjee is an ambitious project for PAFA and its museum,” said Brooke Davis Anderson, Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum. “It’s also a necessary project for the first art museum in the country, because Banerjee continually and aggressively examines what it means to be an American artist. Through the lens of gender, race, class, and from the point of view of being from somewhere else, Rina voices through color, form, texture, scale, and found objects conversations about democracy and equality.”

Jodi Throckmorton, Curator of Contemporary Art at PAFA, remarked: “Make Me a Summary of the World marks a defining moment for Rina. As the artist’s first retrospective, it traces her work over twenty years, culminating in sculptures made for the 57th Venice Biennale and 2017 Prospect Triennial in New Orleans—important exhibitions that reflect one of the most exciting periods of recognition in Rina’s career.”

Born in Calcutta, India in 1963, Banerjee was raised in the United Kingdom and United States. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Polymer Engineering from Case Western in 1993 and took a job as a polymer research chemist upon graduation. After several years, she left the science profession to pursue her MFA in Fine Arts from Yale University. Banerjee currently divides her time between New York City and Philadelphia.

She has exhibited in San Francisco, New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, New Delhi, and notably in a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC in 2013. Her works are also included in many private and public collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY), Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France; Queens Museum (NY); Kiran Nadar Museum, New Delhi, and the Brooklyn Museum (NY).

Exhibition schedule
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)

Organization and Funding

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is co-organized by the San José Museum of Art, California and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia.

Sponsored by the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Tad Freese and Brook Hartzell, Marsha and Jon Witkin, and Melanie and Peter Cross.

Additional support provided by Christie's and Wanda Kownacki.

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


The San José Museum of Art celebrates new ideas, stimulates creativity, and inspires connection with every visit. Welcoming and thought-provoking, the Museum rejects stuffiness and delights visitors with its surprising and playful perspective on the art and artists of our time. SJMA is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San José, California. The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 11am to 5pm and until 8pm or later on the third Thursday of each month. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for students, and $5 for youth ages 7–18. Members and children ages 6 and under are admitted free. For more information, call 408.271.6840 or visit

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Programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous operating support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San José, and the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation.