Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Kochi

January 3-17, 2017 (depart January 1 or 2 if flying directly from the US)*
*Note: Dates and itinerary subject to change

We are pleased to announce that the India Study Trip will be co-led by Faculty members Katarina Weslien, Fiber and Material Studies, and Nora Taylor, Art History, Theory and Criticism, with the Assistance of Katherine Trimble.

This course will focus on India’s rich regional history, its material culture and craft traditions and their manifestations in Contemporary Art.  Activities will include visits to craft centers, art galleries and markets in Delhi, the historic city of Jaipur, the Taj Mahal and the old Fort Cochin, or Kochi, home of India’s only international art Biennale. Students will witness the changing landscape of arts and crafts in India partially rooted in a conservative Hindu caste system where every caste traditionally had an ascribed status based on their profession in the society where crafts sustained generations of villagers around the country. In the 21st century, craft traditions are in transition in light of global trade and rapid economic development that relies more on mass industry than household enterprise. Artistic practices have also evolved over the past century and students will have the opportunity to visit artists’ studios in Delhi and witness the dynamic atmosphere of a world-class biennale set in the historic town of Kochi.

These layers of history will be evident throughout the course of the 15-day journey from North to South. We will begin in the northern capital of Delhi, where we will visit Mughal architecture including the precursor to the Taj Mahal, Humayan’s Tomb, and the 12th Century Qutb Minar, as well as the Gandhi Smriti (museum dedicated to the history of Mahatma Gandhi) to learn about Delhi’s history. We will visit the Old City, walking the lanes of the spice, textile, bookmaking, recycling markets, and the temples and shrines of Jain, Hindu and Muslim faiths. We will visit the National Gallery, the Nature Morte Art Gallery as well as the beautiful garden campus of the Sanskriti Foundation. Artists’ visits include Mithu Sen, Sumakshi Singh and Amar Kanwar.

We will then travel to Agra by train to visit the famed Taj Mahal and take another train to Jaipur to view the City Palace, the astrological observatory Jantar Matar and the markets of the Pink City. We travel by plane to the smaller Southern city of Kochi, where we will meet with the Kochi-Muziris Biennale curator and an art historian of contemporary Indian art. We will view the historic buildings of Fort Cochin, that include India’s oldest Catholic church and one of the few remaining synagogues in India. We will spend time in the Biennale viewing works by contemporary artists and tour some of the Biennale collateral projects. The Kochi Biennale is only in its 3rd edition and already it has received praise for its efforts at building community both locally and globally. The venues for the Biennale are scattered around the city. Kochi is walkable and students will have an opportunity to safely scour the city for materials for their studio projects.  We will also have a unique opportunity to attend performances of Kerala’s unique dance tradition of Kathakali as well as visit the only all-female troupe.

The trip will offer both studio and art history credit by providing opportunities for students to research Indian art, crafts and visual culture and develop their studio practice by responding to elements of Indian culture in their work based on their experiences in the country. The art history portion of the trip will include group sessions to go over the reading and students will develop their own research projects on Indian art based on direct observation. In pre-departure meetings we will discuss strategies of how each student can develop their unique way of recording the experience.


Credits: 3 credits STUDIO and / or 3 credits ARTHI (4000-level)

Nora Taylor, Art History, Theory and Criticism
Katarina Weslien, Fiber and Material Studies
Katherine Trimble

Program fee: Approx. $3,000 (including all meals, ground and air transport during the program, and accommodation; not including airfare to India and visa fee).

PLUS Tuition cost per credit:
Undergraduate—$1,497 per credit hour;
Graduate—$1,580 per credit hour.

Budget at least $1,200 for airfare if flying from the United States. (Note this is only an estimated figure. Actual fare will depend on many variables including airline, number of stopovers, exchange rate fluctuations, ports of departure and return, and date of ticket purchase).

Application process:
Instructor consent required. Submit Application Form Winter 2017 Study Trip Crafting Contemporary Art in India [PDF] to faculty for pre-approval to register.

Online registration begins: October 12, 2016

Deposit due at registration: $525

Information session:
Monday, October 3, 4:15 p.m.
MacLean Center, 112 S. Michigan Ave., MC suite 112

Katarina Weslien is a multi disciplinary artist, educator and publisher. Her work takes form in cross-media installation, immersive experiences, collaborative efforts, video and photography addressing issues relating to the fragility of cultural memory, imagination and radical shifts of perspective and scale.

She is the former Director of Graduate Studies at Maine College of Art where she was also the Editor of the Moth Press; projects include interviews with Alison Knowles, Marina Abramovic, among others, and publication of Mapping The Intelligence of Artistic Work by Anne West.

She has co-facilitated several study trips to India for SAIC, focusing on material culture, pilgrimage studies and contemporary art. She received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and is the recipient of numerous awards including the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and the Payson Foundation. Her work has been shown in the Kohler Art Center, Bates Museum, ME. Finish Embassy in Washington DC., Women’s Museum in Washington DC, The Interventionist; Art in the Social Sphere, Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA. Aliens in America; Others in the USA, Exeter, NH. Her work is in the collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Art, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Xerox Corporation, Bates Museum, among others. She has lectured widely, including, Marylyn Art Institute, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Temple University, Ohio State University, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Academy of Fine Arts Chennai, India, Tel Aviv Museum, Bezalel Academy of Art, Jerusalem  She has recently returned from a residency in Varanasi, India where she has gathered material for an ongoing installation project. She is currently a Visiting Faculty in the Fiber and Material Studies at SAIC.

From last winter's India course evaluations:

• This has by far been one of the best experiences of my life. I feel so incredibly blessed to have had this opportunity. That's why I have put off filling out this course evaluation until two hours before it's due because I can't sum up this trip it's amazing and far too dense.  

• I feel that many of my views have changed and I am thinking of concepts and issues in the world that I've never considered before.

• This trip was really grounding in a way that was refreshing after not having traveled outside of the country for many years and especially being so caught up in the bubble that can occur at SAIC.

• Do lots of research before you leave, pack plenty of medicine and toilet paper. Make sure to have clothing for extreme heat and cooler nights.

• Be ready with your finger on the mouse when it comes time to register – make sure you get a spot. This was the most adventurous and insightful experience of my life to date. I enjoyed each and every day of the trip, and I wouldn't trade those three weeks in India for anything.

• Really do your research about India before you consider this trip. It is not for everyone but it is an incredibly fruitful experience that will definitely take you out of your element. An experience of a lifetime, especially for a school study trip. You will likely never have access to the places and people that you get to meet over the course of this trip.