Art and Culture: India and Beyond

Welch considered himself primarily an educator, and his enthusiasm extended to general audiences as well as his students. When the New York Times interviewed him on the opening of his exhibit of Indian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he explained,, "You have to see works of art as an aspect of culture. If you don't know the other parts of the culture, you see less in the works of art. Your eyes see more when you know more."1 This comment reveals much about his idiosyncratic approach to curation and his efforts to engage the public with works in a range of styles and media. 

His wide ranging exhibition history--which covers a period from c.1300 to 1900--is emblematic of the mixed methods he employed in service of educating the general public about Indian artwork. This vast scope is of a piece with Stuart Cary Welch's mission to cultivate the public's interest in Indian history and culture. By including high art such as commissioned portraits and illuminated manuscripts alongside more quotidian items like pen boxes, spoons, rings and bangles, and other types of jewelry, Welch sought to offer a comprehensive view of the peoples and civilizations that generated the works on display. By doing so, Stuart Cary Welch enhanced public understanding and awareness of the Indian subcontinent in all of its variety and richness of culture and history. 

Further, Stuart Cary Welch's efforts did much to promulgate the notion that knowledge of South Asian and Islamic art is just as important in the development of a cultured mind as is acquiring knowledge of classical Greek and Roman art or Renaissance art. In furtherance of this goal and in continuation with his efforts, it is our hope that Stuart Cary Welch's collection of research and teaching slides, some of which are presented in this online exhibit, will continue to educate the public about Indian art in addition to illuminating Mr. Welch's pedagogy. This collection of slides provides a singular opportunity to become acquainted with Mr. Welch's eye for detail and his habits of mind. 

In the above New York Times article, "Welch explains, even the simplest manmade object is more than a chunk of material […] It is also a record of human effort, a repository of meaning, and a key capable of releasing not only visual pleasure but also varying degrees of intense human feeling, just as a poem or a symphony does." In keeping with Welch's educational vision, these images are now being made available to students and researchers.

-Logan Heiman


Notes: 

[1] McGill, Douglas C. "The Zestful Curator of 'India!'" The New York Times [New York] 12 September 1985: C21.

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