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Rubin Museum Virtual Block Party

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Uttam Grandhi is an origami artist and engineer based in Brooklyn. He is an alumnus of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University and Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, in India. His artworks have been exhibited at venues such as Cartier, MIT, Tokyo University, NYU, Rubin Museum, National Museum of Mathematics, Gulliver’s Gate Miniature Museum, SIGGRAPH, and Nagoya University. He has won recognition from MIT, Harvard University, and NASA for his inventions in augmented reality and origami. Most recently, he founded OpenPPE Project in collaboration with researchers from MIT in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, inventing an origami-based, low-cost, N95+ filtration face mask that can easily be replicated anywhere in the world without the need for advanced machinery or skills.

The Siddhartha School has provided access to modern education in the remote Himalayan region of Ladakh, India, regardless of a family’s financial standing, for more than 25 years. Their curriculum focuses on training the heart and mind, while harmonizing with the rich Himalayan heritage and traditions of the region.

BioBus’s mission is to help minority, female, and low-income K”“12 and college students in New York City discover, explore, and pursue science. Through this work, BioBus envisions a world where all people have the opportunity to reach their full scientific potential. Since 2008, 300,000 students at more than 800 schools have discovered the thrill of scientific discovery, with many embarking on a path of scientific exploration and sustained pursuit.


Ang Tsherin Sherpa was born into an artists’ family in Nepal and trained as a traditional painter by his father, who was a renowned artist from Ngyalam, Tibet. Living in California for an extended period allowed Sherpa to form his own style, fed by traditional training and contemporary artistic practices and influences. He has exhibited globally and is represented in the collections of leading museums. He is one of the foremost artists from the Himalayan region in his generation. Sherpa is based in Kathmandu and engaged in bringing more visibility to the Himalayan arts.

The Yakpo Collective seeks to represent and create a safe space for Tibetan artists from across the world and to challenge stereotypes associated with Tibetan culture.

Tenzin Phuntsog is an award-winning filmmaker and emerging artist. He has been recognized as a Flaherty Fellow for his commitment to the art of the moving image. Rituals of Resistance, a feature length film about three generations of resistance in exile, won the Feature Documentary Award at the Asian American Film Festival in New York in 2019. He contributed to the latest Flaherty Seminar Catalogue, Action, published in collaboration with Flaherty, Union Docs, and World Records. Phuntsog is an assistant professor of film and lens-based media at Montana State University in Bozeman. He manages the Tibet Film Archive and is currently working on several new projects including organizing Stateless.

He received his MFA at Columbia University and a BA in media arts from the University of California, Los Angeles, and he studied film preservation at Cineteca Bologna, Italy, in 2009.

IMAGINE (a.k.a. Sneha Shrestha) is a Nepali artist who paints mindful mantras in her native language and meshes the aesthetics of Sanskrit scriptures with graffiti influences. Being the first to mesh Nepali alphabets with American graffiti, she has shown her work in several exhibitions and completed commissioned works and public walls around the world from Boston to Kathmandu. Her show Mindful Mandalas was recently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


Day Schildkret is internationally known for Morning Altars and has inspired tens of thousands of people of all ages across the globe to be awed with impermanent earth art. BuzzFeed calls Morning Altars “a celebration of nature and life.”

Morning Altars is igniting an international movement of nature, art, and ritual with a seven-step practice that renews and redeems our relationship to the living world. Morning Altars brings ephemeral art to the collective human imagination.

Reimagine is a nonprofit organization sparking community-driven festivals and conversations that explore death and celebrate life.

Alua Arthur is a death doula, attorney, adjunct professor, ordained minister, and founder of Going with Grace. Going with Grace’s goal is to bring grace and compassion to the cycle of life by planning for it and effortlessly tying up the loose ends. Alua currently sits on the board of directors of the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance (NEDA) and the End-of-Life Doula Council of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).

David Figueroa has been practicing yoga for over 30 years and has been teaching adults and children from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities since 1999. His approach is light hearted with a strong attention to detail. David is certified by the Om Yoga Center in New York and has studied various yoga and movement techniques including Vinyasa, Iyengar, Ashtanga, and Body-Mind Centering. He is also influenced by his experience as a professional modern dancer, choreographer. and mime. He has taught throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Provincetown, and Milwaukee. He is currently an adjunct instructor at Brooklyn College and teaches weekly Vinyasa, restorative and chair yoga classes online.

NY YOGA + LIFE magazine is New York’s only free print magazine celebrating yoga, art, music, and New York lifestyle! They print two issues a year and produce yoga and wellness events all over the New York and New Jersey area. NY YOGA + LIFE is owned by Iana Velez and comprises an amazing team of editors, yogis, and photographers who volunteer their time to make this amazing publication.

The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi is an innovative thinker, philosopher, educator, and polymath monk. He is president and CEO of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a center dedicated to inquiry, dialogue, and education on the ethical and humane dimensions of life. The Center is a collaborative and nonpartisan think tank, and its programs emphasize responsibility and examine meaningfulness and moral purpose between individuals, organizations, and societies. Six Nobel Peace Laureates serve as the Center’s founding members, and its programs run in several countries and are expanding. Venerable Tenzin entered a Buddhist monastery at the age of ten and received his graduate education at Harvard University with degrees ranging from philosophy to physics to international relations. He is a Tribeca Disruptive Fellow and a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Kate Johnson works at the intersections of spiritual practice, social action, and creativity. She has been practicing Buddhist meditation in the Western Insight/Theravada tradition since her early twenties and is empowered to teach through Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She holds a BFA in dance from the Alvin Ailey School/Fordham University and MA in performance studies from NYU.

Kate is a core faculty member of MIT’s Presencing Institute, and she has trained hundreds of leaders and change-makers in using Social Presencing Theater, a mindfulness and dance improvisation methodology used to inform strategic planning and systems change in our complex world.


Brooklyn Raga Massive has been praised by the Wall Street Journal for “expanding the notion of what raga””the immersive, epic form of Indian music””can mean” and dubbed the “leaders of the raga renaissance” by the New Yorker. The fun-loving members of the Brooklyn Raga Massive collective have made huge waves for “preserving the past while blurring genres in an inventive spirit” (New York Times). Brooklyn Raga Massive is dedicated to education, engaging in workshops, in-school programs, private teaching, and various community activities to share their love for music.

Swaminathan Selvaganesh is a kanjira maestro who grew up in a celebrated family of virtuoso Carnatic percussionists in Carnatic music. The grandson of Vikku Vinayakram and son of V. Selvaganesh, he started learning kanjira when he was four years old under the guidance of his grandfather and father, and he gave his first performance at the age of 13 accompanying his grandfather.

Roopa Mahadevan is a leading Indian classical vocalist and crossover artist in the South Asian diaspora. Roopa’s “hurricane wail and command of infinite minutiae” have taken her to diverse venues from Chennai’s prestigious Music Academy to New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Museum, as well as numerous folk festivals and cultural centers around the United States. Roopa has performed full-length Carnatic vocal concerts, accompanied leading South Asian dancers/choreographers, and directed the groundbreaking choir Navatman Music Collective. Roopa is a featured voice in projects such as Brooklyn Raga Massive and IndianRaga, and she is a soloist on several albums, including Christopher Tin’s Grammy Award-winning Calling All Dawns and the Facebook Sound Collection. Roopa has been named a member of Joe’s Pub’s Working Group of 2020 and recently released her debut Carnatic album, Roopa in Six Yards..

Neel Murgai is a sitarist, overtone singer, composer, and teacher. He earned an MFA in interdisciplinary art from Goddard College, while learning sitar with Pundit Krishna Bhatt and overtone singing with Timothy Hill. He has composed music for the feature films A Decent Arrangement and Yes Men Fix the World. The Neel Murgai Ensemble began ten years ago with a release on Innova Records and has performed at Ragas Live Festival, Sinaloa Cultural Festival in Mexico, Pioneer Works, the Museum of Natural History, Vassar College, Greenwich Music House, Le Poisson Rouge, and more.

Amir ElSaffar is a composer, trumpeter, santur player, and vocalist who has been described as “uniquely poised to reconcile jazz and Arabic music” (The Wire) and “one of the most promising figures in jazz today” (Chicago Tribune). A recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a 2018 US Artist Fellow, ElSaffar is an expert trumpeter with a classical background. He is conversant in the language of contemporary jazz and has created techniques to play microtones and ornaments idiomatic to Arabic music that are not typically heard on the trumpet. He is also a purveyor of the centuries old, now endangered Iraqi maqam tradition, which he performs as a vocalist and santur player. As a composer, ElSaffar has used the subtle microtones of Iraqi maqam music to create an innovative approach to harmony and melody, and he has received commissions to compose for large and small jazz ensembles, traditional Middle Eastern ensembles, chamber orchestras, string quartets, and contemporary music ensembles, as well as dance troupes.

More about the Raga Maqam project
For centuries, maqam has been the tonal language of Arab, Turkish, and Persian traditional music, while raga is practiced throughout the Indian subcontinent. The two modal systems have developed independently of one another according to specific rules and structure. Yet there are many commonalities and cross-influences, as both traditions emphasize improvisation, resonance, and devotion.

This program is part of the larger Raga Maqam project, produced by The India Center Foundation and Brooklyn Raga Massive, which will culminate in a new work for a 14-piece ensemble led by composer Amir ElSaffar.

Raga Maqam is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW) is devoted to creating, publishing, developing and disseminating creative writing by Asian Americans and to providing an alternative literary arts space at the intersection of migration, race, and social justice. Since its founding in 1991, AAWW has been dedicated to the belief that Asian American stories deserve to be told. At a time when migrants, women, people of color, Muslims, and LGBTQ people are specifically targeted, AAWW offers a new countercultural public space in which to imagine a more just future.

Samira Sadeque is a New York”“based Bangladeshi journalist and poet focusing on migration, the refugee crisis, gender, and mental health. She completed her MS in journalism from Columbia Journalism School in 2017. Her work appears in Reuters, NPR, Al Jazeera, Quartz, The Lily, AJ+, The,, and the Dhaka Tribune, among other publications. She is the editor of the Bangladeshi Identity Project. Samira’s poetry appears in In Full Color Anthology (2019), No Dear Magazine (2019), Six Seasons Review (2013, 2015, 2016) and ActiveMuse (2018). She is a City Lore Teaching Artist, wherein she works with elementary school children on the knowledge of global poetry traditions. She is a 2019 Best of the Net nominee and 2018 South Asian Journalists Association award nominee.

Bangladesh Academy of Fine Arts is a cultural performing arts, music, and literacy school in the Bronx. Over the years, they have paved the way into the hearts of the Bangladeshi diaspora and folk culture enthusiasts of New York. Since 2011 their nonprofit has spearheaded the greatest Bengali Language Preservation Initiative in the Bronx. Their mission is to make sure that this unique creative platform remains at the disposal of artists, educators, and students from all over the world.

Ajna Dance Company is New York’s premier South Asian performing arts organization specializing in artistic and authentic arts education, performances, and classes. The company was created in 2012 by Minila Shah with the purpose of making Indian dance and culture more accessible to people and students of all backgrounds. Ajna dancers and teaching artists are trained in a broad range of South Asian and Western dance styles and offer highly skilled and personalized instruction. The company’s signature style blends the grace and technique of classical dance with the freedom and fun of Bollywood music and dance.

Sonam Lhamo was a performer for the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts. She is dedicated and passionate about Tibetan cultural preservation, with the youth in particular. She teaches Tibetan song, dance, and music in introductory Tibetan and Nepali classes, which have met every Saturday since the beginning of 2020. She has performed in New York and many cities in India, France, Canada, and Switzerland. She plays dranyen (Tibetan lute) and yangchin (hammered dulcimer). Her dance and music classes serve as a medium to engage second generation Himalayan American children in promoting Tibetan and Himalayan cultures.


YindaYin Coaching: “YindaYin” literally translates to “yes, of course!” in the Tibetan language. YindaYin Coaching is the result of countless discussions between founders Chime Dolma and Tashi Tenzin. Influenced by their own experience as educators and immigrants, they are passionate about empowering young people through education and mentorship. They provide a platform that can help children of immigrant families take full advantage of the opportunities that the American educational system offers. YindaYin Coaching Center is strategically located in Jackson Heights, a subsection of Queens with one of the densest Tibetan populations as well as a diverse population of other immigrant communities. YindaYin encourages their students to embrace the diversity of their community and learn to respect people from all backgrounds. Along with achieving academic excellence, fostering diversity and compassion in the future generation is a key element of their program.

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