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Subhankar Banerjee

Exhibition orientation

Subhankar Banerjee

American, born India, 1967

Born in Berhampore, a small town near Kolkata, India, Banerjee loved nature and cinema as a child and learned to paint from his uncle, the artist Bimal Mookerjee. The impracticality of life as an artist led Banerjee to study engineering in India and he later earned two M.A. degrees in physics and computer science at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. There he became enamored of the open spaces of the American west and began hiking, backpacking, and photographing around the region. After completing his graduate studies, he moved to Seattle, Washington, for a research job in the sciences (I believe he worked for Boeing). His commitment to photography continued to develop and he photographed extensively on trips throughout the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.

In 2000, he left his career in science and began an extended project on the American Arctic. After spending fourteen months in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the artist published his first book, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land (2003). Funds from the Lannan Foundation were used to purchase 10,000 copies of the book for donation to indigenous communities, activists, students, libraries, and policy makers in the U.S. and other Arctic countries. An accompanying exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History was the focus of controversy as the region was under consideration by the U.S. government for mining by the oil industry. The artist has continued his engagement with issues of this region and he recently edited the anthology Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (2012). To further support his advocacy efforts, in August 2010 the artist founded the blog

Banerjee is sought after as a visiting scholar, lecturer, writer, and as an interview subject; has often served on programs alongside environmental spokesmen such as Peter Matthiessen and Terry Tempest Williams; and has received many awards, including the inaugural Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation in 2003. His work was featured as part of the UNEP Climate Change Symposium at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (2007) and the Art+Environment conference and exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno (2011). Banerjee is presently serving as Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Art History and Music at Fordham University in New York.

After moving to New Mexico, Banerjee undertook the project Where I Live, I Hope to Know about his neighborhood in Eldorado, a planned community near Santa Fe. Recent work from that series was featured in the museum’s exhibition, book, and website Earth Now and in a solo show at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth in 2011. (Ware 2012)