Photograph: Himanshuu Chandrakant Sheth. Image courtesy: Nine Fish Art Gallery

Sharmistha Ray is a New York-based artist, writer, curator and TED Fellow whose work addresses personal identity as situated at the crossroads of migration. A product of multiple geographies, Ray has lived and worked across cities and countries including Kuwait, Berlin, London, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Between 2006 and 2016, Ray held various positions in the art world: Bodhi Art (Managing Director, 2006-10); Hauser & Wirth (Sales Director, Asia, 2011); Art Basel (VIP Representative, India, 2012-13) and Kochi Biennale Foundation (Fundraising Consultant, 2015-16). In 2000, she completed a short internship with the internationally recognized multimedia artist Jenny Holzer in Hoosick Falls, NY.

In her role as Managing Director for Bodhi Art, Ray developed a global sales and marketing platform for the international branches of the gallery in Mumbai, New Delhi, Singapore, New York and Berlin. She worked closely with major contemporary artists from India, overseeing 100+ exhibitions of art across the world at galleries, museums, biennales and art fairs. She also created close affiliations with international art collections, building portfolios of art for personal, corporate and institutional collectors. Ray was responsible for spearheading many pioneering initiatives within Indian art, including a state-of-the-art project space in Mumbai for large-scale works, the first gallery dedicated to Indian contemporary art in Europe, widespread participation in global art fairs, an online gallery and a popular monthly educational platform.

Since 2012, Ray has focused primarily on her artistic practice, broadening the range of her material practice from painting to include a diverse set of media including light installations, drawing, metalwork and sculptures. Her work confronts the social politics of womanhood, queer identity and migration, drawing from a complex weave of theoretical and aesthetic sources that include comparative histories of painting, feminist discourses, postcolonial studies, queer phenomenology, and Vedic and Buddhist philosophies. Her years in India (2006-2017) also bore witness to a critical development of her use of color and painterly strategies. She deploys bold, saturated hues to build rich, impasto surfaces that evoke the tropical imagination – its mixture of determined chaos and complete abandon.

Solo exhibitions include hidden geographies at Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai (2012); Reflections + Transformations at Aicon, New York (2013); Sweet Surrender: Studies in Abstraction at Galerie Steph, Singapore (2014) and we are all islands at Nine Fish Art Gallery, Mumbai (2016) which travelled to Mill Hall, Kochi (2017) during the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. In 2015, she was commissioned by India’s steel conglomerate JSW, to create the public art work On the Seashore of Endless Worlds. The sculpture, fabricated entirely in steel and painted, was unveiled and exhibited at the largest public arts festival in Mumbai before travelling to the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it is on permanent display.

Ray remains deeply committed to educational initiatives. Since 2014, she has run Bellevue Salons, a popular salon programme that cross-pollinates art, culture and social justice. She is a regular contributor on art for the India editions of Vogue and Elle and has been featured numerous times in both print and online versions. She also maintains a robust art consulting practice to develop key art collections with a focus on South Asia. Her interest lies in the intersection of art, aesthetics and politics.

Ray is the recipient of the Joan Mitchell MFA Grant (2004), TED Fellowship (2009), Montblanc Young Artist World Patronage Award (2012) and was nominated for the Civitella Ranieri Fellowship for Visual Arts (2014). She received her Bachelor of Arts from Williams College and dual degree Master of Sciences in the History of Art & Design and Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Pratt Institute, with highest honours.

She currently lives in Brooklyn. Her studio is located at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York City.

Education

2001-2005  Dual degree: M.S. History of Art & Design/M.F.A. Painting, Pratt Institute, New York

1997-2001  B.A. Art, Williams College, Williamstown, Mass. (cum laude)

Solo exhibitions and projects

2017

we are all islands 2, Mill Hall, Kochi, India

2016

we are all islands, Nine Fish Art Gallery, Mumbai, India

2015

On the Seashore of Endless Worlds, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai, India

2014

Sweet Surrender: Studies in Abstraction, Galerie Steph, Singapore

2013

Reflections + Transformations, Aicon Gallery, New York, USA

2012

hidden geographies, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai, India

2004

Crossroads, M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York, USA

1998

Queer Series, Wilde Gallery, Williams College, Williamstown, USA

Selected Group exhibitions

2016

Studio Picks, The Loft at Lower Parel. Mumbai, India

2016

Art for Concern Annual Charity Exhibition & Auction, Mumbai, India

2015

Sparsh/Tactile, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai, India

2015

The 377191 Wall: A New Window to Understanding, Gallery Beyond, Mumbai, India

2015

Reviving the Retinal, Gallery OED, Kochi, India. Curated by Dr. Kathleen Wyma

2015

India Art Fair, 7th Edition, New Delhi, India

2014

Cursory Glances, Curated by WAA, Palladium Mall, Mumbai, India

2014

Asia Contemporary Art Show, Hong Kong

2014

Noir/Blanc, The Loft at Lower Parel, Mumbai, India

2013

Touched by Bhupen, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke, Mumbai, India

2013

Vikhroli Skins, an initiative by Godrej India Culture Lab, Mumbai, India

2013

OUT/OFF: Out of the gallery and off the walls, Chameleon Art Projects, Mumbai, India

2013

India Art Fair, 5th Edition, New Delhi, India

2012

Open Studios, Space 118, Mumbai, India

2012

Museum of Memories, Godrej India Culture Lab, Mumbai, India

2012

Mumbai Galleries Weekend, sponsored by Citibank, Mumbai, India

2010

Hope for Haiti-India Cares, Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, India

2007

In-si-der, Bodhi Art, Mumbai, India. Curated by Sonal Singh and Brinda Kumar

2006

Joan Mitchell M.F.A. Grant Recipients, CUE Art Foundation, New York, USA

2004

Territories, Aicon Gallery, New York, USA. Curated by South Asian Women’s Creative Collective

2004

CAC Juried Exhibition, Contemporary Artists Center, North Adams, USA. Jurors: Mike Glier and Jenny Holzer

2004

Explorations/Innovations, Kingsborough Community College, New York, USA

2004

2004 Annual Pratt MFA Exhibition, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York, USA

2004

Grand Group Show, Danny Simmons Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, USA

2004

Drawing Show, Parsons Institute, New York, USA

2004

MFAs Colliding, New York University, New York, USA

2002

Extreme Existence, Schafler Gallery, Pratt Institute, New York, USA

2002

9/11: Artists Respond, Schafler Gallery, Pratt Institute, New York, USA

2000

B.A. Thesis Exhibition, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, USA

2000

Berkshire Artisans Association Juried Show, Lichtenstein Art Center, Pittsfield, USA

Awards and recognition

2014

Civitella Ranieri Fellowship, Visual Arts, Nominee, Italy

2013

L’Oreal Paris Femina Women Awards, Nominee, Artist of the Year, India

2012

Montblanc Young Artist World Patronage Award, Germany

2009

TED Fellowship, USA

2005

Pratt Circle Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, Pratt Institute, USA

2005

Certificate of Excellence Award for Outstanding Merit in Graduate Fine Arts, Pratt Institute, USA

2005

Certificate of Excellence Award for Outstanding Merit in Graduate Art History, Pratt Institute, USA

2004

Joan Mitchell M.F.A. Grant, $10,000 Cash Award, USA

2000

cum laude, Dean’s List (four times), Williams College, USA

2000

Berkshire Artisans Association Fellowship, USA

2000

Class 1960 Scholars in Art, Williams College, USA

1998

BiGLaTA Fellowship, $2,500 Cash Award, Williams College, USA