American artist Sheila Dunn traveled to Kathmandu to engage in an Artist Exchange program, facilitated by the United States Embassy in Nepal. Her painting, Sangre de Cristo, is part of the Art in Embassies exhibition at Ambassador Berry’s residence; the work depicts a mountain range in Colorado, the home state of both the artist and Ambassador. During the exchange, Dunn visited studios, met with artists, spoke to students, and worked with creative professionals.
On the first day, Dunn visited Gallery Mcube, an interactive visual arts center. She met with on-site artists and discussed the gallery’s efforts to bring visual and performance art into its surrounding neighborhood in Kathmandu. That afternoon, she traveled to the Patan Museum, which displays the cultural history and traditional crafts of Nepal. The day concluded with a visit to LASANAA, a non-profit established for the promotion of contemporary Nepali art. Dunn met with founder Ashmina Ranjit and other local artists.
The next day, Dunn visited Studio Petal, the gallery of Neera Joshi, a contemporary botanical artist and illustrator. The two artists discussed their work and exchanged prints. Dunn then traveled to the Sattya Media Arts Collective, a community resource center that cultivates a DIY culture. Later, Dunn led a discussion at the Kathmandu University Department of Art and Design that focused on “the nuts and bolts of how to turn painting and creating into a profession.” Afterward, she continued the conversation with the students on site and in subsequent emails.
On the third day, she toured the National Museum in Kathmandu, the largest museum in the country. Then she visited the Nepal Communitere, a co-working space for local creatives, where she interacted with alumni from the American Art Incubator program. She also met with Bachelor of Fine Arts students at Sirjana College, Tribhuvan University’s art school, and talked about maintaining a professional arts practice. Dunn visited the Siddhartha Art Gallery and then spoke with the academic council of the Nepal Academy of Fine Arts. She also toured the Nepal Arts Council.
A highlight of the exchange occurred on the fourth day, when Dunn attended the Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival and participated in a roundtable discussion with twelve female creatives, including musicians, photographers, and directors. “We discussed what it is like to be an artist in our cultures, and specifically, our experiences as women artists,” Dunn recalls. The exchange concluded that evening with a reception at Ambassador Berry’s residence.
Since returning to the United States, Dunn has been in contact with the artists she met during the exchange. “I look forward to seeing what follow-up experiences may happen in the future,” she says. “I will be working with a group of high school students in 2020, and I can’t wait to share with them what I learned from the Nepali youth I met.”