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Radford opens historic art exhibit

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On September 14, the Tyler Gallery at Radford University will present for the first time an exhibition of original illustrations by Martine le Coz, a member of the French Legion of Honor, best known for her works of fiction.

Four of Coz’s recent books focus on the myths, artists, and art of the Mithila region of northern India. This is the first public exhibition of his original illustrations for these publications.

Le Coz is one of the first European writers to study the art of the Dalit community of Mithila, a group once known as the “untouchables”.

Dalits have historically occupied the bottom of traditional Hindu caste society. Economically repressed and socially ostracized, their art and artists have received little attention in India or elsewhere.

Le Coz, however, became fascinated with its art and culture, making many trips to the area.

His book, ‘King of the Mountain: The Epic of Raja Salhesh’, offers a creative account of the mythological Dalit hero/deity of Mithila, Raja Salhesh. Art created for the next illustrated edition of this book will be on display.

Additionally, artwork for a stylish alphabet book (i.e. an “ABC book”) illustrating the Devanagiri alphabet of India, and some Le Coz portraits of the artists (belonging to the Dalit community and various other castes) that inspired it will be exhibited.

The exhibit is part of a historic constellation of five Mithila-related art exhibits in the New River Valley, the first of its kind in the world.

The Floyd Center for the Arts will present “Mithila Medley: Contemporary Arts from an Ancient North Indian Culture” in the Hayloft Gallery until December 1. Many of these works, mostly by women, depict environmental, political and social issues as well as struggles related to natural disasters and COVID-19.

A solo exhibition of works by Dalit artist Naresh Paswan can be seen at Miller-Off-Main, a gallery in Blacksburg, through October 14.

Beginning October 13, the Covington Center Art Museum on the Radford campus will open a major exhibition featuring many of Mithila’s paintings recently donated to the university by Berkeley’s Ethnic Arts Foundation.