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Artist’s work rests on transcultural heritage

Artist’s work rests on transcultural heritage

Siona Benjamin, a Jewish-Indian artist, is showing her colorful and thought-provoking multi-media wo
Artist’s work rests on transcultural heritage
Siona Benjamin's show at the Opalka Gallery will feature an interactive installation titled 'My Magic Carpet,' a gold tent 11 feet in diameter in which viewers will be invited to recline.

“It’s like sitting on a fence and not belonging anywhere . . . but the advantage is that you can see clearly on all sides.”

That’s from a YouTube interview with Siona Benjamin, a Jewish-Indian artist who is showing her colorful and thought-provoking multi-media work in “Beyond Borders,” an exhibit that opened Tuesday in the Opalka Gallery at the Sage Colleges in Albany.

Benjamin grew up in Mumbai, India. Her mother lit Shabbat candles on Friday nights, and before coming to America and settling in New Jersey, she attended Catholic and Zoroastrian schools.

For decades, through her art, she has explored her transcultural roots, identity and sense of home and belonging.

A blend of past and present, Benjamin’s work is inspired by Indian miniature painting, Byzantine icons, illuminated manuscripts and American Pop Art. Religion, feminism and world politics are part of the narrative.

At the Opalka, visitors are invited to go into a tent and view animations, including her newest series, “Exodus: I See Myself in You,” about the current Syrian refugee crisis.

An artist’s lecture is scheduled at 5 p.m. on Sept. 8, with a reception following, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Free film nights are also planned: Two short documentaries, “Blue Like Me: The Art of Siona Benjamin” and “Next Year in Bombay,” will be shown on Sept. 15. The classic 1955 Bollywood film, “Shree 420,” will be screened Sept. 29. Both events begin at 6:30 p.m.

A panel discussion about women in art is scheduled Oct. 6.

“Siona Benjamin: Beyond Borders” runs through Oct. 9.

At the Nott

Saturday is the opening day for “Charles Steckler: Contrary to What Sometimes Happens” at the Mandeville Gallery in Union College’s Nott Memorial.

Steckler, an artist and designer-in-residence in Union’s theater department, creates imaginative dioramas by manipulating objects, painting, printmaking and photography inside small, box-like constructions.

The exhibit runs through Dec. 11, with a reception scheduled from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21.

Steckler will be working on the site from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 15, Oct. 26 and Nov. 15.

The Nott is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

More equine

After last week’s Ticket story about horse-themed art in Saratoga Springs, I got an email from Christine M. Cancelli about an exhibit that we missed.

Cancelli and eight other artists are showing equestrian and sporting art at the Hampton Inn & Suites on Lake Avenue.

The other artists are Heather St. Clair Davis, Kathleen Friedenberg, Booth Malone, Leland Neff, Peter Smith, Andrea Steiner, Roman Szolkowski and Larry Dodd Wheeler. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. through 7 p.m. through Aug. 28.

Free admission

On this Friday only, there are no admission fees at the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Berkshire Museum.

The freebies are part of a “Free on Fridays in Massachusetts” promotion that you can read about at www.bostonmagazine.com.

Reach Gazette reporter Karen Bjornland at 395-3197, [email protected] or on Twitter @bjorngazette.

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