On Sept. 14, Radford University’s Tyler Gallery will premiere an exhibition of original illustrations by Martine le Coz, a member of France’s Legion of Honour, best known for her works of fiction.
Four of Coz’s recent books focus on the myths, artists and art of North India’s Mithila region. This is the first public display of her original illustrations for those publications.
Le Coz is one of the first European writers to study the art of Mithila’s Dalit community, a group once known as the “untouchables.”
The Dalits have historically occupied the bottom of traditional Hindu caste society. Economically repressed and socially ostracized, their art and artists have received little attention in India or elsewhere.
Le Coz, however, became fascinated with their art and culture, making many trips to the region.
Her book, “The King of the Mountain: The Epic of Raja Salhesh,” offers a creative retelling of Mithila’s Dalit mythological hero/divinity, Raja Salhesh. Art created for that book’s forthcoming illustrated edition will be on exhibit.
Additionally, artwork for an elegant abecedary (i.e., an “A-B-C book”) illustrating India’s Devanagiri alphabet, and some Le Coz’s portraits of the artists (belonging to the Dalit community and various other castes) who inspired her will be on display.
The exhibition is part of a historic constellation of five Mithila-related art exhibitions in the New River Valley, the first of its kind in the world.
The Floyd Center for the Arts will feature “Mithila Medley: Contemporary Arts from an Ancient Culture in North India” in the Hayloft Gallery through Dec. 1. Many of these works, primarily by women, depict environmental, political and social issues as well as the struggles related to natural disasters and COVID-19.
A solo exhibit of works by the Dalit artist Naresh Paswan can be seen at Miller-Off-Main, a gallery in Blacksburg, through Oct. 14.
Beginning Oct. 13, the Art Museum at the Covington Center on Radford’s campus will begin a major exhibition highlighted by numerous Mithila paintings recently donated to the university by the Berkeley-based Ethnic Arts Foundation.