Award Winning Author and Photographer Brings India to KSU
Thanks to the generous donation from the Sheth Foundation, a photo exhibit of award winning author and photographer, Robert Arnett's, work is on display through March 7 in the Social Sciences Atrium at Kennesaw State University (KSU). The exhibit is part of the KSU Division of Global Affairs (DGA) Annual Country Study Program: Year of India. The program dedicates a year full of academic and cultural events exploring India's rich political, economic, and artistic history, the Year of India offers Kennesaw State students and members of the Atlanta community a variety of ways to engage with Indian culture.
The exhibit features more than 30 photos from Arnett's award-winning book, "India Unveiled: Spirit, Tradition, and People" which includes 307 photos that capture the vast and diverse land of India. Arnett's book won 4 national book awards including "Best Travel Book of the Year" from Independent Publishers. Arnett also authored the 5-time award winning children's book, "Finders Keeper's?"
Arnett's interest in photography dates back to his early days of selling fine art with his brother. The two sold a variety of art pieces, but the Indian art particularly interested Arnett. He looked into deciphering the meaning of the art which lead him to his own discovery of Eastern religion and the secrets behind one of the oldest surviving civilizations in the world—India.
In 1967 at the age of 27, Arnett traveled to Detroit on business. One of his colleagues invited him to a Yoga exhibit at the Detroit Art Institute. At the time, Arnett says he didn't know what Yoga really meant. He explained that most people believe yoga is a physical exercise, but he found that was only a minute part of the meaning of Yoga. Learning the true definition of Yoga, union of soul and spirit, led to Arnett's interest in meditation. He wanted to travel to India to see the country and the people who developed what he calls a non-material approach to life.
When Arnett traveled to India for the first time, he did not intend to write a book. Captivated by the people, landscape, religion and culture, Arnett decided to share the country he fell in love with through his eyes. Arnett enjoyed most the overall peacefulness and respect of Indian culture claiming they are the most hospitable, honest and family-oriented people in the world.
"Indian hospitality made Southern hospitality pale by example and seem like nothing," he said.
That overall peacefulness and respect is exemplified in his photography. His photos represent religious symbols and cultural activities in a visual journey through the country. He encourages his audience to delve deeper into the meaning of the religious symbols found in his work. He says that if you visit their higher meaning, you will find that sacred and religious symbols of the world are universal, and he hopes that somehow through osmosis his audience will understand that no one culture has a monopoly on truth.
"I would hope that they would take away a greater degree of understanding for other cultures and, particularly, tolerance for things different than their own," Arnett said.
At the grand opening, exhibit visitors enjoyed traditional Indian cuisine catered by Moon of India. Arnett led a group through the exhibit examining the symbols, meaning and interpretation of each photo. Food and travel writer and founder of the non-profit organization Go Eat Give, Sucheta Rawal and cyber security professional, Dipak Rath attended the event on January 23. Rawal and Rath, natives of India, wanted to see how a person who didn’t come from India viewed the country.
“I really like the way he explained the diversity in India and the commonality of different religions giving the same messaging,” said Rawal.
Rawal and Rath hope that message will resonate with KSU students and help develop understanding and perceptions of India and Eastern religion.
Arnett's passion for a country that rejects materialism and focuses on uniting mind and spirit comes to life in a collection of photos that are thought provoking, inspiring and telling of the peaceful and spiritual nature of India. Take the time to experience this wonderful gift to KSU that connects the KSU community to the captivating world of India. The exhibit is free to all and will be open daily through March 7.