Mithila Art in 2020: Life, Labor, and COVID-19 in South Asia is a webinar that was hosted by the Princeton University Library on March 26, 2021. Participants included Ellen Ambrosone (South Asian Studies Librarian, Princeton University), Amanda Lanzillo (Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows, Princeton University), Julie Mellby (Graphic Arts Curator, Princeton University), Lina Vincent (Art historian and curator in Goa, India), and Peter Zirnis (Curator and collector of Mithila art in New Jersey, U.S.A.).
Throughout 2020, artists in India have been engaging with pandemic-related themes that reflect the vast inequity with which the pandemic has manifested in the lives of South Asians. While some have managed to maintain safety and stability, many more have experienced food insecurity, displacement, disease, and loss of income. The Mithila art featured in the webinar expresses both moments of serenity and sorrow in the midst of the recent crisis. Panelists discuss and reflect on the particular expressions of COVID-19 in this art, as well the impact of the pandemic on artisan labor and art markets.
The artwork acquired by Princeton University Library and featured in the webinar includes “Corona Effect in Patna, 2020” by Dulari Devi, “Masked Mithila, 2020” by Amrita Jha, “Incarnation of God as a Corona Warrior, 2020” by Nisha Jha, “Faces of Corona, 2020” by Shalini Karn, and “Getting Home During Modi’s 2020 Lockdown, 2020” by Naresh Kumar Paswan. Additional images of each piece and related discussion can be found at Princeton University Library’s Graphic Arts Collection blog by Julie Mellby. Some of these works have also been featured in a digital exhibit entitled “Mithila Art in the Time of COVID-19” by Dr. Susan Wadley (Syracuse University).