The School of Art Announces Two Faculty Appointments in Painting

Posted on April 18, 2023

The School of Art is pleased to announce the appointment of Ranee Henderson and Sharmistha Ray as assistant professors in the area of Painting.

Ranee Henderson’s richly colored paintings complicate class assumptions through their representational scenarios and carefully directed symbols. Through murky renderings of her imagination and discomforting associations, her works celebrate the self-reliance and refusal to comply by those considered lower class, denying the simple narratives of “haves” and “have-nots” to reveal the complexity of lived experience.

Henderson’s work has been exhibited in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including at Rubber Factory in New York; Phase Gallery in Los Angeles; and Casa Lu in Mexico City, among others. She has had residencies at The Golden Foundation and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Henderson received a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, a BFA from Art Center College of Design, and an MFA from Bard College. She previously taught at Art Center College of Design.

“Resisting our culture’s predominant narratives, Ranee Henderson’s work revels in ambiguity, prodding us to rethink our notions of class,” said Head of School Charlie White. “Henderson’s mysterious figures and symbols defy clear answers and upend expectations. As a professor, she brings a wealth of knowledge and will inspire our students to think about their subjects in complex ways, encouraging them to become comfortable with unclear resolutions.”

Sharmistha Ray’s art practice delves into the complex inheritance of multiple cultures through the lens of their queer identity, personal migration, and modes of abstraction, both Western and non-Western. Working primarily in painting and drawing, they also engage in sculpture, installation, curation, criticism, and pedagogy. In addition to their solo work, they co-founded, with artist Dannielle Tegeder, the feminist art collective Hilma’s Ghost, a collaborative model for research, artistic production, pedagogy, and community.

Ray’s work has been featured in exhibitions nationally and internationally in the United States, India, and Singapore, including at the Hill-Stead Museum in Connecticut, The Armory Show in New York, and Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke in Mumbai, India, among others. They are a recipient of the Montblanc Young Artist Worldwide Patronage Award, a TED Fellowship, and a Joan Mitchell MFA Grant. Ray received a BA from Williams College and a dual MFA in Painting and MS in Theory, Criticism, and History of Art, Design and Architecture from Pratt University. They have previously taught at Parsons School of Design, Rhode Island School of Design, and in the MFA program at the CMU School of Art.

“In an increasingly globalized world, Sharmistha Ray’s practice deftly examines the intricate nuances of cross-cultural identity and intersectional histories,” said White. “In recent paintings that work through the languages of abstraction, geometry, and color, Ray reveals the collapsing of canons and rebuilding of modernism’s histories. And as a teacher in our MFA program, Ray has already demonstrated their acute ability to help our students think about myriad contexts for their work and how it fits into both personal genealogies and global histories. I’m excited to see them expand this pedagogy as part of the full-time faculty.”