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

Release date 
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rina Banerjee, 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, cowrie shells, resin alligator, skull, globe, glass vials, light bulbs, gourds, steel wire and Japanese mosquito nets, 90 × 253 × 90 inches. Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, India.

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 the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (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 16, 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, migration, and identity—themes that reflect our community.” 

SJMA curator Lauren Schell Dickens, added: “For twenty years, Rina has been using her work to disrupt 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.”

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.”

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 an immersive experience.

Using a variety of gathered materials ranging from African tribal jewelry to colorful feathers, light bulbs, and Murano glass, Banerjee’s 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 named with thought-provoking and poetic titles that are works of art in themselves, ranging in length from 50 to 180 words.

About Rina Banerjee
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 Masters 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).


A full-color catalogue was co-published by SJMA and PAFA. It illuminates the crossover contexts in which Banerjee works and includes a detailed chronology of the artist’s life and work, and essays by co-curators Lauren Schell Dickens (SJMA) and Jodi Throckmorton (PAFA); Rachel Kent, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and writer Allie Biswas. $45, available in the SJMA Museum store.


Exhibition schedule
Co-organizer Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (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, North Carolina (February 18–July 11, 2021)

Related Public Programming

Member Opening Reception
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
6–7:30pm        VIP + MEMBER PREVIEW

7:30–8:30pm | $12 ($6 for SJMA members)
7:30pm Creative Minds talk with Rina Banerjee and Lauren Dickens
Artist Rina Banerjee in conversation with curator Lauren Schell Dickens. Space is limited, advance tickets recommended; doors open at 7:15pm. Creative Minds is a series of programs that give the public the chance to meet and hear from creatives and experience creativity in action. 

Sponsored by Christie’s and Bay 101.

Rina Banerjee Learning Lab
May 16–October 6, 2019
Explore Rina Banerjee’s use of materials sourced throughout the world in the Koret Family Gallery’s interactive Art Learning Lab where you will make observations, ask questions, and participate in creative experimentation.

Third Thursday
Thursday, May 16 | 7–10pm
As part of New Terrains: Mobility and Migration, and in response to Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World, Chamber Music Silicon Valley returns with another presentation of Common Sounds.
$5 after 5pm (free to SJMA Members); galleries open 5–10pm.

Art This Way: Environment + Poetry
Tuesday, Jun 11 | 12:30pm
Art This Way: Sociology + Food
Tuesday, Jul 9 | 12:30pm

SJMA debuts a special summer series (June 11 and July 9) exploring Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World, where our featured experts from a variety of studies—environment, literature, social science, culinary, etc. walk us through the exhibition while sharing their unique perspectives of the works by the artist. Let’s Art This Way!

The session on June 11 is led by Bruce Olszewski, lecturer with the Environmental Studies Department at San José State University and also Director of the Center for the Development of Recycling (CDR) and Tonya Foster, poet and Assistant Professor at the California College of the Arts.

The session on July 9 is led by Dr. Tanya Saroj Bakhru, lecturer of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social and Interdisciplinary Social Science Department at San José State University, and Robert Sapirman, Bay Area Executive Chef and culinary expert.

Third Thursday: Art Rage
Thursday, June 20 | 6–10pm
Mosaic Silicon Valley returns with an evening of live performances inspired by the art and themes of identity, tradition, and culture expressed in Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World.
$5 after 5pm; galleries open 5–10pm.

Collector’s Conversation
Sunday, October 6 | 3pm
This conversation is with Manjari Sihare-Sutin, Sotheby’s Head of Sale, Modern & Contemporary  South Asian Art, and Tad J. Freese, Co-President, SJMA Board of Trustees.

Organization and Funding
Co-organized by Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, and San José Museum of Art. Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World is 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, Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 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 Leela de Souza Bransten and Peter Bransten, Lucia Cha and Dr. Jerrold Hiura, Christie’s, Glenda and Gary Dorchak, Pamela Hornik, Wanda Kownacki, 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.

The catalogue is supported by Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, CA, and L.A. Louver, Venice, CA.

Programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous support from a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, The Lipman Family Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

SJMA Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Embarking on its 50th anniversary in the fall of 2019, the San José Museum of Art launches a season of solo exhibitions of visionary women artists to honor the Museum’s history of gender parity in exhibitions, programs, acquisitions, and leadership. Undersoul: Jay DeFeo is first of the exhibitions to open, which is currently on view; Catherine Wagner: Paradox Observed is open April 5 through August 18, 2019; Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World opens May 16 through October 6, 2019; and Beta Space: Pae White will open July 18, 2019 and close January 19, 2020.

San José Museum of Art

The San José Museum of Art reflects the diverse cultures and innovative spirit of Silicon Valley. Through its exhibitions, programs, scholarship, and collections, SJMA connects the present and the past, the art of the West Coast and the world. The Museum fosters awareness of artists’ broad contributions to society and engages audiences with the art of our time and the vitality of the creative process.

 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. As of Friday, February 1, 2019, SJMA is also free to all on the first Friday of each month from 5–9pm. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, 17 and under, college students and teachers with a valid ID, and members are free. On the Third Thursday of every month, admission is reduced to $5 after 5pm. For more information, call 408.271.6840 or visit