Brooklyn-born artist Chitra Ganesh’s unique blend of mythological, religious, political, and popular imagery stems from the summer trips she took to India while growing up. There she encountered thousand-year-old statues and paintings alongside advertisements, graffiti, movie posters, and comic books. She began bringing things home from her trips and piecing them together, each tidbit in conversation with the ones beside it. This prompted her initial artistic process of creating traditional collage pieces.

Portrait by Margarita Corporan

Since then, Ganesh has earned an MFA from Columbia University and has shown her art around the world. Her paintings, animations, installations, and murals have been exhibited at galleries and institutions including the Brooklyn Museum, the Rubin Museum, MoMA PS1, and others across the US, Europe, and South Asia.

Ganesh’s artwork incorporates Buddhist and Hindu religious and folkloric iconography while drawing on feminist and queer scholarship, her dedication to political and social activism, and popular culture. In an interview with Ocula Magazine, Ganesh noted that for many middle- or lower-middle-class immigrant families like hers, popular culture from their countries of origin provides a “bridge of sorts to the idea of home.”

She adds fantasy elements to much of her art, too, to help viewers see themselves in characters they typically wouldn’t relate to, she told Hyperallergic. When you remove some reality from a story, she said, people will feel more comfortable empathizing. Ultimately she strives to add representations of femininity, sexuality, and power to canons of literature and art where these themes have historically been absent.

chitra ganesh
Tiger Robot, 2018, acrylic, glitter, collage, and digital print on paper, 53 × 39 in.

In India, Ganesh encountered thousand-year-old statues and paintings alongside advertisements, graffiti, movie posters, and comic books. This prompted her initial artistic process of creating traditional collage pieces.

Tree of Life, 2019, acrylic, ink, embroidery, textiles, fur, ceramic, large glass marbles on paper; mounted on paper on linen, 71 x 52 in.
Catdancer, 2018, mixed media on paper, 60 x 40 in.

Ganesh adds fantasy elements to her art to make it easier for viewers to empathize with characters other than those they typically see themselves in. When you remove some reality from a story, she says, people will feel more comfortable empathizing.

chitra ganesh
Yamari, 2018, acrylic, ink, Kodak repositionable fabric paper, and glass beads on paper, 74 x 44.5 in.
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