To lead a thoughtful life in the contemporary world, it is crucial to acknowledge and nurture the creative talent and energy inherent in every human being. Imagination has long held a central place in traditions of conceptual and inferential thinking in India and South Asia. Beyond the world of the studio, stage or gallery space, ingenuity informed by art has found a place, even in domains of life that are traditionally perceived to be distant, such as modern science. While Raja Ravi Varma, Amrita Sher-Gill, M. F. Hussain, and Abanindranath Tagore established striking new directions in Indian art, what is less often observed is that aesthetic sensibilities also prominently informed the scientific work of figures such as C. V. Raman and Homi Bhabha.
Taking inspiration from such original individual and collective journeys, the Performing and Visual Arts division aims to provide a nurturing space for self-expression to students, helping them to realise their creative abilities and become more curious and conscious members of the worlds they live in. The courses we offer provide a global perspective on the social and cultural relevance of art today. They examine how different traditions of visual art and performance engage contemporary issues such as climate change, ecology, technological advancement, as well as questions of identity, ethics, truth and representation. Through hands-on experiential learning and an emphasis on critical thinking, the division is developing specialised degrees as well as elective courses for all students.
It offers both practice and theory-based interdisciplinary courses, by not only blending the Visual Arts and the Performing Arts but also by collaborating seamlessly with other divisions and schools at Ahmedabad University. Currently, Painting, Drawing, and Art History are offered, and in the near future, the teaching and research base will extend to Sculpture, Design, Graphics, Illustration, Photography, and Print-Making from the Visual Arts, and Dance, Theatre, Music, and Sound from the Performing Arts. The division will be composed of a cluster of disciplines that mediate our imaginative and sensory engagement. In each of these, the distinction lies in our efforts to introduce students to the diversity of indigenous art forms (including India’s powerful folk, tribal and classical craft traditions) as well as historic and present day practices of art in the Global South alongside the North.
Our aim is to produce highly skilled graduates, who can be powerful actors in the world through the medium of art. They can also simultaneously use their technical expertise and conceptual strengths, drawn from the University’s broad-based liberal arts curriculum, to work in industries such as media, fashion, design, advertising, journalism and digital arts, among many others.
Over time, the Performing and Visual Arts division and the Black Box performance space in the School of Arts and Sciences building will become a hub for interactive collaboration and creative pursuits across Ahmedabad, bringing theorists and practitioners to the city from around the world.