Following the Box Opens at the USC Pacific Asia Museum

Critics often like to say LA is bereft of culture and that’s just…baloney. LA has culture coming out of its ears. Not only is it home to such famous works of art as Van Gogh’s Irises and Gainsborough’s Blue Boy but it’s also home to world class theater, opera and symphonic ensembles. Then there’s the vast number of museums devoted to various cultures from the Skirball to the California African American Museum to the USC Pacific Asia Museum. Last week found me at the latter for the opening of their latest exhibition Following the Box.

Several years ago artists Alan Teller and Jerri Zbiral purchased a box of photographs from an estate sale and inside they discovered a number of WWII era photos of India. Taken by an unknown US soldier they provide a unique glimpse into India (specifically the Kharagpur area) during the war years.

Enamored with the photos the artists took a trip to India to further research the area and then enlisted a group of 10 Indian artists to create works inspired by them.  The results have been collected into the exhibition Following the Box, currently on display at the USC Pacific Asia Museum.

artist Mamata Basak

Each artist brought their own unique take to the materials and the results utilize an array of artistic mediums from film to collage to graphic art and more.

artist Amritah Sen
artist Alakananda Nag
artist Sarbajit Sen

It’s so fascinating to see such varied takes on the same set of photographs and I was particularly moved by the scrollwork of Swarna Chitrakar and the collages of Sunandini Banerjee.

artist Swarna Chitrakar
artist Sunandini Banerjee

Following the Box is a fascinating exhibit that highlights the creativity of the human mind. Who would have thought that a box of photographs would inspire such varied and beautiful works of art? The exhibition runs through January 26, 2020 and is well worth visiting.

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