Caldwell, N.J., August 26, 2013 – En Rungmung: We are Rung, an exhibition of photographs by Pushparaj Aitwal will be on view in Caldwell College’s Visceglia Gallery, Sept. 18 to Oct.18, 2013. A reception to coincide with Caldwell’s Homecoming and Family Weekend will be held Saturday, Sept. 21 from 9am. to 5pm in the gallery.
A 2011 graduate of Caldwell College, Aitwal has worked as a photographer in the United States and in Nepal and En Rungmung is his inaugural exhibition. The works celebrate the Rung people, a community unique among the population of Nepal, Aitwal’s home country.
Born in a small village in the Himalayan frontier of Nepal, India, and Tibet, Aitwal credits his interest in portraiture to his search for pictures of his grandparents. “My journey began as a child’s simple reaction to not having ever seen his grandparents. I never knew how they looked and it was discomforting not being able to put faces to their names.” This led to his project of recording the people and life of the small, tightly knit Rung communities who live in a series of valleys stretching between northwestern Nepal and India.
Despite the encroachments of the modern world, the Rung continue to live a life centered on the cycle of the seasons – summers in the high mountains, winters in the hills to the south; herding livestock and tending crops in warmer months, producing products for trade with other Rung communities across the borders in the winter. As the modern world slowly creeps into the Rung’s life, Aitwal has intentionally focused his lens on the elders of the villages as the keepers of the Rung traditions lest they be completely lost to future generations. Thus, what was originally a photography project evolved into Aitwal’s passion for knowing more about the traditions and customs of his people, and preserving them as much as possible for the future generations of Rung.
The curator is Maribeth Flynn, who teaches in the Art Department at Caldwell College.
En Rungmung is open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the college’s Visceglia Gallery.