Annu Palakunnathu Matthew

September 25, 2021 - January 9, 2022

Ilgenfritz, Corridor, and Wright Galleries

For over twenty years, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew has been making photo-based works of art that deal with lesser known histories and immigration. Born in England, raised in India, and now living in the United States, Matthew draws on her personal experience and identity, and also collaborates to tell the stories of others from South Asia. These experiences and collaborations culminate in powerful and evocative works of art. Although she began her career as an accomplished still photographer, Matthew’s artistic practice has expanded to include installations and sculptures, which incorporate a unique blend of still and moving images and sound. These new works draw on archival photographs for their inspiration and re-examine historical narratives and the legacies of colonization.

This exhibition features early work by the artist, such as her dreamlike black and white film photographs from the series Memories of India and her thought-provoking self-portraits based on Edward S. Curtis’ photographs of Indigenous peoples for An Indian from India. This show also includes a selection of the artist’s compelling recent works about the traumatic aftermath of the Partition of India in 1947 and the forgotten history of Indian soldiers who fought for the British during World War II: Open Wound–Stories of Partition and The Unremembered–Indian Soldiers from the Italian Campaign of WWII. Blending photographs, video, sound, sculpture, text, and narrative for her works, Matthew creates a dynamic and immersive experience for viewers while she recovers many all-too neglected histories.

A passionate mentor to students and emerging artists, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew is a Professor of Art at the University of Rhode Island where she also served as the Director of the Center for the Humanities and the Silvia-Chandley Professor of Nonviolence and Peace Studies. She has exhibited in solo shows at the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada; Nuit Blanche (Toronto); and sepiaEYE, NYC. Selected group exhibitions include: the RISD Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; San Jose Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Victoria & Albert Museum; 2018 Kochi-Muziris Biennale; 2009 Guangzhou Photo Biennial; and Smithsonian Institution. Matthew has received many grants and fellowships including two Fulbright Fellowships, a MacColl Johnson Fellowship, and grants from the Rhode Island State Council of the Arts. She was also an artist in residence at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Matthew is represented by sepiaEYE, New York City.

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