Dan Mishra Curator of South Asian Art & Culture, Global South Asia; Department Head, Art & Culture
Interests: History of Photography, 19th-century Decorative Arts, Colonialism & Modernity, Contemporary visual practice, Historiography
Exhibitions & Galleries: Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery@DeepaliDewan
B.A. (Honours), Art History, McGill University, 1993
M.A., Art History, University of Minnesota, 1995
Ph.D., Art History, University of Minnesota, 2001
Deepali Dewan is the Dan Mishra Curator of South Asian Art & Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto. She is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Toronto, is affiliated with the Centre for South Asian Studies, and is a Senior Associate Fellow at Massey College. She is the co-editor of the online, peer-reviewed journal Trans Asian Photography. Her research spans issues of colonial, modern and contemporary visual culture, including topics such as art education, decorative arts and historiography.
Her main research interest focuses on the history of photography in India and the South Asian diaspora with a view toward understanding how photography has shaped contemporary ways of viewing and being in the world. Her current research considers how family photography works to reflect and shape experiences of migration. She is part of the SSHRC-funded The Family Camera Network, a collaborative project to collect and preserve family photographs and their stories. She is the author of Raja Deen Dayal: Artist-Photographer in 19th-Century India (2013, co-authored with Deborah Hutton), Embellished Reality: Indian Painted Photographs (2012), and the editor of Bollywood Cinema Showcards: Indian Film Art from the 1950s to the 1980s (2011). All three were accompanied by exhibitions. Her essays have also been published in Photography and Culture, Trans Asian Photography Review, and Marg.
Dr. Dewan also has research interest in 19th-century decorative arts in colonial India and Victorian Britain, stemming from her dissertation work on the Madras School of Arts & Craft, established in 1850 in present-day Chennai. She is primarily concerned with questions of how knowledge about Indian art and regional aesthetics was produced at the nexus of art education, museums, and annual exhibitions. It also examines how objects circulated within and beyond the colony to the metropole and across empire, intersecting with nation-building, race, and migration. In this regard she has examined an array of topics, including the figure of the Indian craftsman at work, Anglo-Indian silver, craft revival, and chromolithography. She has published essays on some of these subjects in edited volumes, such as Collecting South Asia (edited by Allysa Peyton and Katherine Paul, 2019), Confronting the Body: The Experience of Physicality in Modern South Asia (edited by Satadru Sen and James Mills, 2004), and Imperial Co-Histories: National Identities and the British and Colonial Press (edited by Julie Codell, 2003).
Dr. Dewan's third research area is in contemporary art, with a focus on the work of specific artists as a way to begin to map the larger picture of post-colonial visual practice within South Asia and its diasporas. Most recently, she has worked on artists of South Asian origin who live and work in Canada, such as Panchal Mansaram, whose archive of paintngs, drawings, collage, and ephemera joined the ROM's collection in 2016-2017. Through her efforts, the ROM's collection also holds work by Sylvat Aziz, Frances Ferdinands, Meera Sethi, Youngo Varma, among others. Further, she has published on and/or collected the work of emerging, mid-career, and established artists such as Hamra Abbas, Navjot Altar, Zarina Bhimji, Anita Dube, Gauri Gill, Sunil Gupta, Ayaz Jokhio, Anish Kapoor, Annu Matthew, Pushpamala N, Sohan Qadri, Shahzia Sikander, Pamela Singh, The SIngh Twins, Neha Thakar, Vikek Vilasani, among others.
Dr. Dewan joined the Royal Ontario Museum in January 2002 as Associate Curator of South Asian Civilizations. Prior to joining the ROM, she worked at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and The Asia Society in New York. She also served as a visiting instructor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and at Carleton College, both in Minnesota. She has received fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the College Art Association, the MacArthur Program/Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change at the University of Minnesota, the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She was born in New Delhi, India to a Hindu Punjabi father and Episcopalian American mother. Her appreciation for the arts was first nurtured in The Berkshires, specifically Lenox, Massachusettes, where she grew up.