Samit Sinha in From Hand to Hand: Painting and the Animation of History in Northern India, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2019.

Q: Hi Samit, tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a double major in Art History and Psychology, and I’ve been involved at KAM as a volunteer, student educator, and most recently as a curatorial intern.


Q: You have played a variety of roles at the museum; does art influence the way you think about the world? 

It does. The art instinct, to borrow a term from Denis Dutton, is the evolutionary trait of aesthetic taste. It is the driving force behind how we interact with the world. Knowing this, I’m definitely more aware of how and why I look at things the way I do.


Q: You’ve worked as a curator a few times this year. What is unique or surprising about those experiences?

Well, first I helped organize the KAM Fest student art pop-up show last fall. Connecting with creative students from all over campus gave me a better sense of the depth of art talent at the U of I.

I was also a curatorial intern last fall and worked with Yutong Shi and Senior Curator Allyson Purpura to study KAM’s collection of Indian painting for the exhibition From Hand to Hand: Painting and the Animation of History in Northern India. That experience was completely different—very research-focused and in a completely new field of art history for me.

What was surprising? The way my family background contributed to my work with Indian art. I was raised Hindu, so a lot of the popular Christian and Euro-centric art sometimes seems foreign to me, even though that’s primarily what is covered in my courses. Sometimes the figural representations and mythology in Asian art can seem more familiar.

Also, in December, my family and I traveled to India. We were able to visit courtly artist workshops in Jaipur, Rajasthan, in Northwest India. I spoke with artists who have done courtly painting for generations. Knowing that I contributed to sharing their work in the exhibition at KAM was humbling.


Q: Is there something from your experiences at the museum that you’ll carry with you beyond campus?

I am confident that the relationships I’ve made here—with students, staff, community members, and the artwork—will resonate with me forever. Experiences at KAM have made me realize that there are career paths and opportunities I hadn’t considered. It is exciting to think about those possibilities.