After stepping down as executive director of Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum in 2013, Bill FitzGibbons started channeling his interest in "creating a dialog between international artists and San Antonio artists" into "Texas!" — an exhibition that showcased 13 Texas artists at the National Academy of Art in New Delhi, India, and later sparked the formation of the Lone Star Art Alliance. Still in its nascent stages, the Alliance is now in the process of developing a project with San Antonio's sister city of Chennai. Helping facilitate this collaboration is curator Devanshi Agarwal, who works in New Delhi as a consultant for the Crow Collection of Asian Arts, a Dallas museum already invested in a cross-cultural conversation between Texas and India. We sat down for a chat with Agarwal this summer at FitzGibbons' studio.
Tell me a little about the Alliance.
[It's] an artist-run organization with the mission of creating a cultural arts bridge between Texas and other countries. And the focus as of now will be India ... By initiating exhibitions, artist residencies, workshops, etc., the Alliance intends to create a network for international artists to come to Texas [and] for Texas artists to go abroad.
What can you share in terms of how Texas art would be appreciated in India?
When the "Texas!" exhibition happened in India, we were a little skeptical about how people would react ... but people were really welcoming ... In India our lifestyle is very different in comparison to Texas, which leads us to make art which is very different ... [For example] Mumbai-based artist Jitish Kallat does a lot of work which includes street children [who are] pushed toward child labor. Through his work he addresses these issues, which is what he believes he should be doing as an artist. Through this artist exchange, we will be giving artists the opportunity to look at a different part of the world, which will help them understand and see other lifestyles and surroundings.
Is there a central hub for contemporary art in India?
Delhi and Mumbai are the number one places, but if you want to see really good art, it's even in Calcutta ... And in Bangalore, the art scene is just starting, which is a very interesting thing to see ... The students are participating in organizing art events ... very interesting projects where upcoming artists, curators, art dealers, buyers, they can all participate in it.
How can artists submit work to be considered or get involved?
By the end of this year, we want to be ready with our website and ready with our first proposal ... I will be going to Chennai as well to start the sister city dialogue with them and see what the reaction is.
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