Nirmal Raja is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Milwaukee, WI. Born in India, she has lived and travelled in several countries. Raja received a Bachelor's of Arts in English Literature in India, a diploma in Graphic Design from the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia and a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Painting at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
She was a mentoring resident at RedLine Milwaukee, an urban arts incubator for over 6 years. Currently, she works out of her studio at Material Studios and Gallery in downtown Milwaukee.
She has participated in solo and group shows in the Midwest, nationally and internationally. She has won several awards and has recently received grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Milwaukee Arts Board in support of an exhibition at Redline Milwaukee. She has also received grants for traveling her work to exhibitions across the nation from the Mary L. Nohl Suitcase Export Fund.
Most often, her work deals with concepts of displacement, cultural negotiation and memory.
Occasionally, she curates exhibitions and organizes artistic collaborations.
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.