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Our Mission

To connect through art the culture of Mithila and contemporary global society.

The Institute

Kamlesh Roy Forest Pond, 2015
Founded in 2003 in Madhubani, Bihar, the center of the ancient Indian Mithila Painting tradition, the Mithila Art Institute focuses on developing the artistic skills of the next generation of Mithila painters. Using a rigorous curriculum the Institute both teaches the students the centuries old conventions, imagery and techniques of the tradition, and encourages them to explore and express their own experience and concerns through their paintings. Each year, 25 to 30 new students are selected from among 150 to 250 applicants through a blind competition judged for talent by a panel of senior artists. New students come from communities all across the region, and are interviewed to assure their commitment to the intensive four-hour-a-day, five-day-a-week, year-long program. Select students are encouraged to pursue a second year of advanced study.

Where once young women learned to paint on the walls of their homes from their mothers, now critically acclaimed artists are teaching the students and sharing with the new generation the history of the tradition and their knowledge and skills of wall painting and painting on paper.

Shalini Jha Woman as Radiant,
Woman as Submissive, 2009
Folklore traces the origin of Mithila painting to a decree by Raja Janak that families in Mithila were to paint their homes in celebration of the wedding of his adopted daughter, Sita (actually a goddess), to Lord Rama of Ayodhya. While not that ancient, there are 14th century literary references to women of Mithila painting images of gods and goddesses on the walls of their homes for domestic rituals, using colors made from vegetable and mineral dyes, and most elaborately for marriages.

Only in the late 1960s were the paintings transferred from walls to paper, and soon thereafter a few men also began painting. Over the following decades the paintings expanded to include episodes from the great epics, local tales, village life, autobiographical paintings, and most recently local, national, and even international events, as well as many issues of particular concern to women.

With this website the Mithila Art Institute is initiating a new phase in the evolution of the art form. It will bring the work of the most talented students, graduates, and other Mithila artists into the digital age, enabling them to reach a global audience, and enabling global audience to engage with this distinctive Maithil tradition.

Amrita Jha, 2014
With initial funding from the estate of Raymond Owens and the USA based Ethnic Arts Foundation, the Mithila Art Institute has trained and graduated over 25 students a year for the past 14 years. Several graduates have already received national and international recognition and many have been featured in exhibitions books and articles in India, France, South Africa, and the USA.

As a major cultural institution in the heart of Mithila, the Institute also organizes national and international exhibitions for its graduates and other talented Mithila artists.

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Since its inception, the Mithila Art Institute has focused on quality instruction and developing the talent, originality, and artistic skill of the students regardless of their social or economic background. In order to support this vision, several philanthropic individuals and non-profit organizations have donated generously to support this vision. In turn, by organizing exhibitions
Ganga Devi Ardhanarishvara,1977
and sales of paintings by its students, and the broader community of artists, and by promoting the culture and art of Mithila, the Institute and the Ethnic Arts Foundation have created an art and life-sustaining economic model for hundreds of artists engaged in Mithila painting.

As the Mithila Art Institute now begins leveraging digital technologies to bring the art and the artists of Mithila to a global audience, the Institute seeks new partnerships with forward thinking people and organizations to help achieve its mission of more fully connecting the art and culture of Mithila with global contemporary society.

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Santosh Kumar Das Three Women,2010
In 2016, the Mithila Art Institute is embarking on an ambitious program to raise a $1 million endowment to fund scholarships, equipment, and provide the Institutes ongoing operating costs. Because artistic talent is found all across the social and economic spectrum the Institute is committed to providing scholarships to needy students and modest stipends for students with unusual talent and commitment to the art. In addition, a new digital lab will be established to enable second year students to apply and refine their painting techniques with the use of the latest digital design and graphics tools.

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The Mithila Art Institute and the Ethnic Arts Foundation are US Internal Revenue approved 501(c)3 organizations. Donors to the Institute can therefore receive tax deductions for their contributions. 70% of the net proceeds from the sale of these paintings goes directly to the artists. 30% goes to the Institute itself. Donors can also buy a table at the upcoming gala fundraising dinner. Volunteers to support the fundraiser are also needed. It is important to artistically and economically empower these artists. Please help us in any way you can.


USA 501(c)3:
1230 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 300, # 577,
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

In India: The Mithila Art Institute

Opposite Mahila College, Mahila College Road,
Madhubani, Bihar, India
Pin Code - 847211