Nirmal Raja is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Milwaukee. She approaches her practice as a process of sifting and communicating sensations and ideas with varied materials and processes. Conceptually driven and thematic, her work straddles the personal and the political and is a response to lived experiences that are distilled and strengthened by research in the studio and through reading. She examines notions of memory, identity, place and belonging. Performative collaborations with other artists and the larger community have recently become part of her practice. Occasionally, she curates exhibitions and organizes and facilitates situations that articulate moments of connection and empathy.

She is a mentor for Milwaukee Artists Resource Network’s mentorship program. She has participated in solo and group shows in the Midwest, nationally and internationally.

 

Statement:

I often feel like I am a porous membrane through which experiences are filtered, absorbed and digested. I approach my practice as a process of sifting and communicating sensations and ideas with varied materials and processes. Conceptually driven and thematic, my work is a response to lived experiences that are distilled and strengthened by research in the studio and through reading. 

Liminal concepts like memory and perception of time and space have always been a consistent presence in my work. However, recently my work has become a response to the polarized political climate filled with xenophobia and racism. I am compelled to examine how I fit into this American landscape and express an anxiety for my children and the future. Living in the Midwest as a transplanted individual, I feel a new urgency to articulate and facilitate moments of connections and empathy through making and showing. I examine notions of costume, identity, place, boundary and belonging through material explorations in the studio and performative collaborations with other artists and the larger community.


 NIRMAL RAJA

EDUCATION 

2017-18 Online courses at the Node Center for Curatorial Studies Berlin, Germany 

2012 Master of Fine Arts Painting and Drawing, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

2010 Master of Arts University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

2008 Bachelor of Fine Arts Painting, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee 

1997 Diploma in Desktop Publishing Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia, PA 

1989 Bachelor of Arts English Literature, St. Francis College, Hyderabad, India 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE 

Curatorial Advisory Committee at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee 

2018- ongoing - Mentor at Milwaukee Artists’ Resource Network 

2016-17 Exhibition Liaison, Ornate/Activate, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee 

2015-16 Artist in Residence Chair, RedLine Milwaukee 

2012-17 Resident Mentor, Redline Milwaukee 

2012-15 Associate Lecturer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

2011 Adjunct Instructor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

2011 Adjunct Instructor, Alverno College, Milwaukee 

AWARDS AND GRANTS 

2019 Finalist, Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Individual Artists 

2018 Graduate of the Last Decade Award (Gold), University of Wisconsin Alumni Association 

Jan. 2015 Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund Suitcase Export Fund for Visual Art 

2014-15 CUP grant (Community University Partnership Grant) 

2014 Grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the City of Milwaukee Arts Board in support of Transitions in Perspective: Myth and Mirror at Redline Milwaukee 

Jan. 2013 Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund Suitcase Export Fund for Visual Art 

2018- ongoing

EXHIBITION RECORD 

2019 :

Points of Departure, Ruth Davis Design Gallery, School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin - Madison 

Water, Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts, Cedarburg, WI 

Spark, Frank Juarez Gallery, Milwaukee, WI 

On Belonging, The Warehouse, Milwaukee, WI 

Mundane Wonder, Grove Gallery, Milwaukee, WI 

MARN Mentor/Mentee show RedLine, Milwaukee, WI 

Transmission, Quad Gallery, Riverside City College, CA 

Hanji Translated, Lalit Kala Academy, Chennai, India 

2018 :

Water Works, RedLine Milwaukee 

Grounds for Change, Village Theatre Art Gallery, Danville, CA 

Indiana Green, Parts Unknown Studio, Milwaukee 

Look Here! Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee 

2017 :

TimeLine, Redline Milwaukee 

Collective Exhibition, Var Gallery, Milwaukee 

Transplant Eyes, Walkers Point Center for The Arts, Milwaukee 

Archival Alchemy, Abrons Arts Center, New York, NY 

Ornate/Activate, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee 

Accumulation, New work by Nirmal Raja and Leslie Vansen, Ploch Gallery, Sharon Lynn Wilson Center for The Arts, Brookfield, WI 

2016 :

Forward 2016: A Survey of Wisconsin Art Now, Charles Allis Museum, Milwaukee 

Transplant Eyes, Instinct Art Gallery, Minneapolis, MN 

Sifting, Solo exhibition at the Fine Arts Gallery, University of Wisconsin- Parkside, Kenosha, WI 

Drawing Broadly Speaking, Dean Jensen Gallery, Milwaukee 

Material Girls, Sabin Aell, Nina Ghanbarzadeh and Nirmal Raja, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design 

Origin 8: Abstract Artists Invitational, Pfister Pop Up Gallery, Milwaukee 

Beyond Language, Nirmal Raja and Nina Ghanbarzadeh, Jazz Gallery, Milwaukee 

Confluence, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Hyderabad, India 

2015:

Motion 15, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Milwaukee 

Location Indeterminate, Grafton Arts Mill, Grafton, WI 

WOW Women of Wisconsin, Alverno University, Milwaukee 

New Hanji: A Korean Paper Tradition Reimagined, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee 

Transience: Video installation and Ephemeral Work by Nirmal Raja, Alfons Gallery, Milwaukee 

Redline at MOWA, Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend, WI 

Beyond Language, Two person show at Hinterland Gallery, Denver, 

Colorado, August 2015 

Rice, Jeonbuk Art Center, Jeonju, S. Korea 

Ornate Activate, Shirin Gallery, Chelsea, NY 

Intersections: Asian American Narratives, Lindsay Dirx Brown Gallery, San Ramon, CA 

2014 :

The Tongue of the Hand, New Work by Nirmal Raja, Greymatter Gallery, Milwaukee 

Juried Members Show, Midwest American Print Conference, Detroit, MI 

Transitions in Perspective: Myth and Mirror, Redline Milwaukee 

2013:

Frame Story, Collaborative show with Jessica Meuninck-Ganger at Carroll University, Waukesha, WI 

Paper Revisited, Hanok Village in Gyo-dong and Pungnam-dong, South Korea 

MFA Show, INOVA Arts Center Gallery, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee 

Erasing Borders, Flushing Town Center, New York, NY 

Recent work by Nirmal Raja and Dara Larson, Shrishti Gallery, Hyderabad, India 

Making Connections (Part of SGCI Print MKE) Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design 

Translating Memories, Gallery Crescent, Bangalore, India 

2012:

Erasing Borders 2012, Art 6, Richmond, VA 

Abstract, Brickton Art Center, Parkridge IL 

Weather Patterns, Collaborative work for the Nonhuman Turn Conference University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

Erasing Borders 2012, Crossing Art Queens, New York, NY 

Salon V – Book Arts Exhibition, Milwaukee Artist’s Resource Network 

2011 :

Wisconsin Artists’ Biennial, Anderson Arts Center, Kenosha, WI 

Milwaukee a City Intersected, Union Art Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

Arts & the Rivers, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design 

Visual Literacy: Artists’ Books and the Vanishing Text, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

2010:

MA show, INOVA Arts Center Gallery, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Nov-Dec, 2010 

While in Class, Woman made Gallery, Chicago, IL