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On Display: Madhubani (Mithila) Art by Nupur Nishith

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On Display: Madhubani (Mithila) Art by Nupur Nishith

During the month of July, the Livingston Public Library is showcasing the colorful and unique world of Mithila or Madhubani painting,  a folk art form practiced by millions of women in the Mithila region of Bihar, India, since ancient times.  The works displayed are those of Nupur Nishith, a USA based award winning practitioner of the art, who has brought her own ingenious and contemporary spin to the artform.

Madhubani paintings were traditionally drawn on walls and floors, and then redrawn over time, when they faded.  The painting skills were passed diligently through generations from mothers to daughters of Mithila. With themes ranging from nature, spirituality, social events and science, these are highly complex intricate paintings and  have an elaborate structure involving different types of geometrical figures and curves.  They convey a flat two-dimensional perspective with no shading or overlapping. They also have very rich color patterns and often have to be understood in conjunction with folk stories, folk songs and other folk traditions.  The artists prepared the colors from natural resources. For example, black made by adding soot to cow dung, yellow from combining turmeric with the milk of banyan leaves, blue from indigo, red from the kusam flower juice or red sandalwood, and green from the leaves of the wood apple tree.

Nupur took up the art at an early age from her mother. She has evolved a unique style by amalgamating traditional motifs of the folk art with modern contemporary themes and tools with global appeal.  She has also been one of the pioneers in taking Mithila painting the digital route. Nupur  experiments with the art form  while conserving its essence.  She works on a variety of surfaces ranging from paper, canvas, glass, clay, ceramic, wood, aluminum as well as murals on walls, windows, ceilings, and floors, and does installations as well.

Nupur draws inspiration from her experiences and surroundings to visualize objects and situations in perspective to create the symbolic motifs and designs which makes her art unique and distinct.. She uses paint drawn from natural sources though with new surfaces, she also incorporates modern paints. She likes to work mostly freehand, usually with a brush without using any stencils or pattern tools on her projects.

Her paintings have been awarded and exhibited at various galleries, shows and publications all over the world. She also conducts workshops to spread the art form.

She is a member and has been on board of various artist groups including former Vice President of Pro Arts Jersey City in New Jersey, USA. She has also curated various group art exhibitions in New Jersey. Her paintings are available on the popular art website Artsy.net and she also uses her art for social causes.  She founded Creative Mithila LLC and maintains the website www.creativemithila.com to promote Mithila Art. Her art can also be found on social media Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube as @creativemithila.

The enthralling Library display includes Nupur’s vibrant and inventive creations on various surfaces such as wood, canvas, terracotta and glass, showcasing both the traditional and contemporary styles of Mithila art, and can be enjoyed during Library hours in July. 

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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