by Malini Bartels
Deep in the heart of Old Town is the most unlikely worldly gem. The Global Village Museum for Arts and Cultures is currently showcasing one of the most exquisitely well-planned public displays of art their main gallery has ever housed. Indian Thali: A Feast for the Senses, which runs through May 17, is a fabulous display of Indian culture. Boasting vibrant textiles, exotic dance and unique cuisine, art and linguistic diversity – this exhibit is a must see for anyone remotely curious about the subcontinent’s vivid palette.
Guest curator for Indian Thali is Fort Collins native, Maya Jairam. Jairam’s unique background bridges Western and Indian cultures. While raised in the United States, Jairam has visited India on numerous occasions and lived abroad for extended periods of time. While having an affinity for the arts and patronizing museums all over the world, she was naturally led to the position of guest curator.
“I’m excited to share my knowledge of Indian culture through this exhibit, which will give visitors a visceral experience to engage and stimulate the senses, in much the same way India does to its visitors,” says Jairam. “India is so diverse. It’s literally a cornucopia of the senses. The Indian version of that is a thali.”
In Indian cuisine, a thali is a well-balanced plate presenting a variety of foods. Designed to engage, stimulate and satisfy the senses, this exhibit does much of the same. Interactive displays where you can try on a sari and children can color geometrical rangoli patterns are just a few of the exclusive experiences at the exhibit.
“When people think of India, what comes to mind?” says Jairam. “It’s mostly a sensory response. The music, the food, the textiles and art are what most people initially think of.” Jairam noticed that people’s general interpretation was either olfactory or visual.
These realizations lead her to the title of the exhibit and an overall theme to the display.
Numerous museum volunteers and community members joined forces over the past six months to create this truly unique and beautiful display of Indian culture. During the procurement process, Maya contacted several resources from the IANC (Indian Association of Northern Colorado). Her father, Raju Jairam, was instrumental as well, putting Maya in contact with some of his connections from Rotary International.
“My dad’s personal and Rotary connections were extremely helpful,” says Jairam.
Taking into account the vast size of the museum’s main gallery, Jairam designed the set-up of the exhibit to flow throughout the space while also being divided into regions.
“I decided to divide the space into the different general regions of India and not necessarily states,” said Jairam. “Just as different regions of America have certain characteristics and qualities, so do the various regions of India.”
Jairam confesses that her friends and family were wonderful resources during the creation of this exhibit. This colorful community effort is an authentic act of love. Experience if for yourself!
The Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures is located at 200 W. Mountain Ave. in Fort Collins. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11-5pm. During First Friday Gallery Walk evenings, admission is half-price. For more information, call 970.221.4600 or visit www.globalvillagemuseum.org.