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Panel Discussion | Transgressive Materiality

Using the framework of “Transgressive Materiality,” a select group of curators and academics who are experts in the different fields of craft processes, South Asian and Caribbean culture, discuss Mattai’s practice as well as other contemporary artists and how the three aspects intertwine and inform the contemporary art landscape.

"The materials in my work are deeply tied to craft process, my South Indian and Caribbean ancestry. My materials are inspired by South Asian culture but have an alchemical nature, a kind of do-it-yourself process embedded within them, that is prevalent in the Caribbean. My Grandmothers made their own clothes and made brooms of plants and branches. Food at weddings (including my parents’ wedding) were and are served on banana leaves. I am interested in taking what was once discarded, and through the labor of craft, making it beautiful, all in the service of empowering women." – Suchitra Mattai

Joining us will be Suchitra Mattai; Grace Aneiza Ali, Curator and an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Art and Art History at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida; Joanna Robothaum, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, Florida; Suzanne Isken, Executive Director of Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles, California with jill moniz PhD, founder and Creative Director of Transformative Arts in Los Angeles, California, moderating.

About the Artist

Suchitra Mattai (b.1973 Georgetown, Guyana, based in Los Angeles, CA) is a multi-disciplinary artist of Indo-Caribbean descent. Mattai received her MFA in painting and drawing and MA in South Asian art from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Past projects include group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, AZ; the Sharjah Biennial, UAE; Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; Tampa Museum of Art, FL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO and John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI. The artist has had solo presentations the Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID and Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago, IL. Upcoming projects include solo exhibitions at the ICA San Francisco, CA and Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY. Her works are represented in collections which include Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, the Tampa Museum of Art, Tia Collection and the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Mattai is also a recipient of a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.

About the panelists

Grace Aneiza Ali is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Art and Art History at Florida State University. As a curator-scholar of contemporary art of the Global South, her curatorial research practice examines the conceptual links and slippages at the nexus of art and migration, focusing on art of the Caribbean Diaspora with particular attention to her homeland Guyana. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of the College Art Associations’ Art Journal Open. Her book, Liminal Spaces: Migration and Women of the Guyanese Diaspora explores the art and migration narratives of women of Guyanese heritage.

Joanna Robotham  joined the staff of the Tampa Museum of Art as the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art in 2016. She previously held the Neubauer Family Foundation Assistant Curator position at the Jewish Museum in New York City, where she worked for over 10 years. Joanna is the curator of the current Tampa Museum of Art exhibition Pepe Mar: Myth and Magic and she is planning a solo exhibition of Suchitra Mattai’s work for early spring 2024.

Suzanne Isken is the executive director of Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles, California. A former museum educator, Isken has worked to improve the audience experience for museum goers for nearly 30 years, where she has led initiatives to support the creation of contemporary craft and build audiences by creating hands-on-experiences for the public.

jill moniz, PhD runs the project space Transformative Arts in Los Angeles, California. She works with artists and communities toward a mission to reclaim the commons as a space of diasporic imaginings. 

Light bites will be provided by Caribbean Gourmet.