Jul 22, 2019

A glimpse of ‘India’

Shaun Ho / The Collegian

Elephant rides. Temples. Colorful saris.

These were just some of the traditions that a group of Fresno State students, alumni and community members experienced on a study tour in northern India.

Most college students are too swamped by school, work and tuition fees to consider traveling that far.

Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that they can’t see the sights of faraway places.

Students can stop by the President’s Gallery in the Thomas Administration Building for a glimpse into another world.

“India,” a photograph exhibit by Fresno State art professor Joan K. Sharma, is on display at the President’s Gallery on campus until Oct. 17.

The photographs were taken during the study tour from Dec. 25, 2006 to Jan. 6 of this year.

Additional photos came from a trip to India that Sharma went on this past June for a family wedding.

A one-hour documentary of the trip, narrated by Sharma, is available for viewing along with the photographs.

Sharma said that she wanted people viewing her work to see that the Indian people are ordinary people just like everyone else, despite differences in dress and culture.

“Even though it’s another part of the world, there’s a way for people to be connected to people in another region,” she said.

Sharma’s photographs, culled from about 3,000 pictures taken during her two trips, capture Indian lifestyle, architecture, culture and people.

The lively and colorful images depict everything from elephants and giant statues, to giggling school girls and a sari-clad woman on an electric scooter.

Although Sharma can see a good photograph in the making with an artist’s trained eye, many of her photographs were taken through a much more organic process.

Sometimes she was inspired by a moment, a scene or other things that happened around her that she hadn’t planned on.

“It’s almost like a meditation,” Sharma said. “It’s a mysterious process in some ways… kind of an alignment in that moment of who I am and what I’m looking at and who the people are. It’s an amazing experience.”

Cntributed by Joan K. Sharma

One of Sharma’s favorite photographs in the exhibit, although it was difficult for her to pick just one, is of an Indian girl sitting at a village vegetable stand.

She likes it because of the way the girl’s face draws attention, anchoring the photograph.

“I was walking along… I looked up and I saw her and it just stopped me,” Sharma said. “After I took this picture there was a man from the village. He just walked by and said, ‘Nice picture.’ He also felt it.”

Sharma and her Indian-born husband, Brijesh Sharma, CEO of India Traveller LLC, led the study tour.

The group visited museums, temples, palaces and villages.

It was the first trip to India sponsored by Fresno State.

On top of that, the students that were able to go also received class credit for their travels.

While there are currently no concrete plans for a second study tour to India, Sharma hopes to organize one for next year.

“I would like to recommend that if any student has the opportunity to travel to another country, another culture as a part of their educational experience… to take advantage of it,” she said. “It really expands one’s understanding of the world we live in and it’s important.”

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