In Conversation: Dr. Robert Del Bonta and Dr. Siddharth Bhansali

In conjunction with Pursuit of Salvation: Jain Art from India, join curator Robert del Bonta for a virtual conversation with Dr. Siddharth Bhansali, who loaned works from his collection to the exhibition.

Dr. Robert J. Del Bontà, guest curator of Pursuit of Salvation: Jain Art from India, for a virtual tour of the exhibition currently on view at NOMA. Dr. Del Bontà is an independent scholar of Indian art, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1978. Since that time he has published numerous articles, contributed to many scholarly publications, and curated major exhibitions for the Berkeley Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art, among others.


About Pursuit of Salvation: Jain Art from India

The Jain faith has been continuously practiced in India since at least the sixth century BCE. Nonviolence, a respect for all living beings, and the belief in the existence of a permanent soul whose true nature is obscured by accumulated karma are core principles of Jainism. As in Buddhism, the goal of Jain practice is to end the cycles of rebirth (samsara) and attain liberation from all suffering. This is accomplished through rigorous devotion to ascetic practices and the elimination of human passions and attachments.  

Jains pay homage to the founders of their faith, the twenty-four Jinas (conquerers) the last of whom was Mahavira (c.  599–527 BCE). Over time, there came to be two primary sects in Jainism: the Shvetambaras, whose monks wear white robes, and the Digambaras, whose monks reject all possessions, including clothing. Artists clearly identify the figure’s affiliation, and represent the Jinas in one of only two positions: seated in meditation, or standing in the kayotsarga (body abandonment) pose. The latter is a visualization of the Jina’s liberation from human attachments and emotion. 

Created over a period of more than fifteen hundred years — the second through nineteenth centuries — the sculptures, paintings, and manuscripts on view in this exhibition of works loaned from the collection of Dr. Siddharth Bhansali illuminate iconographic and stylistic change as well as regional variation.



Education and outreach initiatives at NOMA are supported in part by the Zemurray Foundation; the Lois and Lloyd Hawkins Jr. Foundation; The Helis Foundation; The Gayle and Tom Benson Foundation; The City of New Orleans; IBERIABANK; The Wagner Foundation; Janice Parmelee and Bill Hammack; the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative, funded by the Walton Family Foundation and the Ford Foundation; Sara and David Kelso; Patrick F. Taylor Foundation;  Dr. Scott S. Cowen; The RosaMary Foundation; The Azby Fund; the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Federal agency; The Collins C. Diboll Private Foundation; Burkenroad Foundation; Marian Dreux Van Horn Education Endowment; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation;  Ruby K. Worner Trust through the PNC Charitable Trusts Grant Review Committee; The Harry T. Howard III Foundation; New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.; Harvey and Marie Orth; The Bruce J. Heim Foundation; and Mrs. Bennett A. Molter, Jr. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.