By Inderjit S. Takhar
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon in San Francisco California the Asian Art Museum and the Sikh Foundation hosted the Language of Colors: A Discussion of Guru Nanak’s Janamsakhi Life Stories on February 20, 2016. The event brought together a diverse audience from across the Bay Area and beyond.
The event started with a colorful demonstration of traditional miniature painting by the Sikh Foundation’s artist-in-residence Rupy C. Tut. Rupy visually and verbally described the process of miniature painting to an at- capacity audience in the North Court of the Museum.
Once the art demonstration was completed the event moved upstairs to the majestic Samsung Hall. The second half of the event began with the Sikh Foundation’s Executive Director Sonia Dhami giving a brief background on the Sikh Foundation and a quick overview of events to come.
The Samsung hall was packed to the brink, with nearly 300 guests in attendance. Dr. Nikky Guninder Kaur Singh captivated and educated the audience with her graceful and thought-provoking lecture on the Janamsakhi paintings. Dr. Nikky’s talk was followed by a question and answer session between author Kamla Kapoor and docent Shivi Legha.
Kamla Kapoor shared her narratives on Guru Nanak and how her work has helped her connect to the message of the Guru. At the end of the Q and A, Kamla wowed the audience by beautifully reciting a shabad about Guru Nanak.
Lastly, Qamar Adamjee, the associate curator of South Asian and Islamic art at the Asian Art Museum, provided a brief, but detailed introduction on the miniature painting on display in the Satinder Kaur Kapany gallery at the Museum. Additionally, she educated the audience on how to interpret miniature painting by showing what to look for and how the little details help paint a more descriptive scene. The event came to a conclusion with Kamla Kapoor and Dr. Nikky taking questions from the audience.
The event was a success on many levels. It attracted people from both the Sikh and non-Sikh communities. It proved a great platform for education and exquisitely brought religion and art together. Dr. Nikky stated “Religion and art have an intimate relationship. But often we claim religion in divisive categories “ours” vs. “yours,” while we experience the universality of art. A work of art belongs to all of us equally.”
Additionally, the event received many positive feedbacks from the audience, speakers and volunteers. Kamla Kapoor stated “”Impressive venue, great art, wonderful audience, superbly organized, open-hearted and friendly organizers and participants. More events like this needed to disseminate Sikhism’s highly relevant, contemporary messages.”
Gaila, a volunteer from the Asian Art Museum, delightfully stated “The Samsung program was wonderful. It was awesome to see how the Sikh community, from all over the Bay Area, came together for this event. One big beautiful family. Several parents mentioned to me how important it was to them that their children receive these teachings”. Lynn, another volunteer from the Asian Art Museum, was moved by the event and said “Before the event even started, I was taken by (and energized by) the camaraderie among the attendees as I helped usher them in and get them settled. Once the festivities were underway, I was hypnotized by the flair and fun of the whole shebang, especially the fantastic stories. Being entranced by the beautiful Ms. Rupy into believing that I might be able to paint a miniature flower was surreal to say the least.”
THANK YOU! all for making Language of Colors: A Discussion of Guru Nanak’s Janamsakhi Life Stories on Feb 20th at the Asian Art Museum such a warm and endearing success. Our speakers – Dr. Nikky Guninder Kaur Singh, author Kamla K. Kapur, artist Rupy C. Tut & Ms. Shivi S. Legha enthralled everyone with their insightful and eloquent presence. We are thankful to the Asian Art Museum for being the perfect partner and friend. Our heartfelt thanks to all of our amazing volunteers who multiply our capacities many folds.
And above all, our audience, which was diverse, engaged and enthusiastic – you are the reason we do this! Thank you!