Rina Banerjee. Of and Between Worlds

Rina Banerjee in her studio, New York, ca. 2013.
indian american woman seated at a desk with artwork on the wall behind her and a paintbrush in her hand. She is wearing large, bright, chunky green eyeglasses.
Rina Banerjee in her studio, New York, ca. 2013. Photo by Jeanette May. Courtesy of the artist.

Migration defines Rina Banerjee’s personal history. Born in 1963 in Kolkata, India, she moved with her parents to London at the age of five and then to Queens, New York, at age seven. Banerjee’s artwork is rooted in global movement and exchange between places and cultures. She initially studied polymer engineering at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland (the use of uncommon materials in her art practice would evolve from this early study of plastics), then took a job at Pennsylvania State University as a research engineer. Painting and drawing in her free time eventually led the artist to earn an MFA from Yale School of Art in 1995.1 Calling upon a multiplicity of identities, Banerjee’s work rejects the idea that identity is based exclusively on one’s gender or culture of origin, such as her Bengali-Indian or American roots. Rather, her work frames identity as a process of self-identification amid experiences of the dispersal and fragmentation of cultures.

  1. Jodi Throckmorton, “Make Me a Summary of the World,” in Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and San José, CA: San José Museum of Art, 2018), 20. ↩︎