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Pixar Partners with Khan Academy to launch online storytelling course

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Pixar Animation Studios is partnering with Khan Academy to launch the first of six free online lessons covering the art of storytelling, the course is taught by Pete Docter, Mark Andrews, and other filmmakers from the renowned Disney-owned studio.

The new series includes Pete Docter, director of “Inside Out,” “Up” and “Monsters, Inc.”; Mark Andrews, director and screenwriter of “Brave” and story supervisor on “The Incredibles”; Sanjay Patel, director of “Sanjay’s Super Team” and animator on “Ratatouille,” “Cars” and “Monsters, Inc.”; and Domee Shi, story artist on “Inside Out.”

The rest of the “Art of Storytelling” lessons will roll out through the rest of the year. The internet classes include videos, exercises and hands-on activities to guide them from an initial idea to a final storyboard.

The first of the storytelling lessons is available now at PixarInABox.org.

It’s the third season of “Pixar in a Box” on Khan Academy, which first launched on the site in 2015. Past lessons from the studio have covered simulation, color science, virtual cameras, character modeling and rendering. Disney funds the Pixar collaboration with Khan Academy.

Information from Variety contributed to this report. 

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Anish Kapoor Awarded Prestigious $1M Genesis Prize

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — The Genesis Prize Foundation announced this week that Anish Kapoor, the Turner Prize-winning artist, has been named its laureate for 2017. The annual prize recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to Jewish politics and culture, it comes with a $1 million cash prize.

Kapoor, whose mother is Jewish, has produced several major public works, the most recognizable of them being the bean-shaped Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park. He also designed the Holocaust Memorial at London’s Liberal Jewish Synagogue. In 2015, for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, he designed a series of Holocaust remembrance candles.

Occasionally, Kapoor’s passions have spewed over into the world of politics. Kapoor said he will put the money from the Genesis Prize towards helping the Syrian refugee crisis, which has displaced an estimated 12.5 million people. No specific details have been announced, but Kapoor said he will make a much more elaborate presentation in June.

“The profound impact of Anish’s work continues a long history of Jewish contribution to the arts, while his social activism reaffirms the commitment of the Jewish people to humanitarian causes,” the Genesis Prize Foundation’s chairman and cofounder, Stan Polovets, said in a statement. “We particularly admire how, in an age frequently characterized by cynicism and indifference, Anish continually advocates for the world’s disadvantaged—challenging all of us to do more to help wherever and whenever we can.”

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Indian-American museum opens in New Jersey

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A case containing artifacts related to the success of Raju Sethi, founder and president of AVS TV. PHOTO BY HILDI BORKWOSKI

A case containing artifacts related to the success of Raju Sethi, founder and president of AVS TV. PHOTO BY HILDI BORKWOSKI

MAHWAH, N.J. (Diya TV) — A new museum saluting and celebrating the experiences of Indian-Americans in the U.S. has opened at the Hindu Samaj Temple of Mahwah in New Jersey. The temple celebrated its grand opening of the new 13,800-square-foot cultural center on June 5.

Built eight years ago beneath the temple, the space previously served as a multipurpose room for church activities, but will now be utilized to document the stories and experiences of Indian immigrants. It will highlight their achievements and struggles in a variety of fields, said Kalidas Kale, a temple spokesperson.

“This is our home,” he said of the U.S., “but we still want to maintain our heritage.”

Above the entrance hangs the image of the flag of India with a human fingerprint superimposed over it, meant to signify the sense of Indian identity. The room includes a stage with large bronze statues on both sides, and includes a state-of-the-art sound system with ample lighting for musical programs.

The area will also be used to serve local seniors and has classrooms for children’s language, arts and crafts, enrichment classes, space for dance practice and recitals, and even a yoga facility.

Decorated on the walls are collages of the four Indian-American honorees who spoke at the center’s commencement: Vipp Jaswal, head of International Affairs at Fox News; Rashmee Sharma, founder of Roshni Media; Raju Sethi, founder, CEO and president of AVS; and Dr. Sudhir Parikh, a physician and CEO of Parikh Worldwide Media. All four were chosen for their contributions in news media.

Additionally, members of the temple have held discussions about the possibility of dedicating a space to preserve the experience of the Indian diaspora across the nation. The talks have recently become amplified to keep pace with the successes of Indian-Americans in society, Kale said. The Indian-American community is one of the most highly-educated groups in the country — 71 percent of the country’s 3.1 million residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to 2010 census numbers.

“In all aspects we are trying to do our best and contribute to society,” Kale said.

The temple was founded in 1996, and has a membership of approximately 2,500 families. It provides religious, cultural and social services in New Jersey and the surrounding areas.

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Indian Rajput court paintings to go on exhibition at the Met in New York

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‘The Sage Durvasa Helps the Gopis Quiet the Yamuna River’ originates from North India and is dated to around 1580.

‘The Sage Durvasa Helps the Gopis Quiet the Yamuna River’ originates from North India and is dated to around 1580.

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Steven M. Kossak decided at age 36 to return to school and pursue a degree in art history. Soon thereafter, he joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a research assistant, and worked his way up the totem pole to his current position, where he serves as full curator of the museum’s Asian Art department.

In a little over two weeks, the museum plans to open a new exhibit titled, “Divine Pleasures: Painting from India’s Rajput Courts—the Kronos Collections,” which features nearly 100 works Kossak once purchased for his own private collection. Now worth millions of dollars, Kossak and his family have promised to bestow the works upon the museum as a token.

Kossak said as a collector he became endeared to the colorful paintings of northern India’s small kingdoms from the 16th and 19th centuries. The pieces were inspired by Hindu myths and poetry, watercolors were used to record the images of love, life and the country’s gods. The titles are just as colorful — “Krishna and the Gopas [Cowherds] Huddle in the Rain” and “Krishna Swallows the Forest Fire.”

Kossak said each purchase was made because of its emotional response. “It’s lightning-bolt recognition across the board,” he said.

‘The Devi, in the Form of Bhadrakali, Adored by the Gods’ (c. 1660-80).

‘The Devi, in the Form of Bhadrakali, Adored by the Gods’ (c. 1660-80).

“They pack a wallop in content, style and beautiful color,” said Vishakha Desai, president emerita and Asian-art scholar of the Asia Society. “You can enjoy them whether you know the content or not. Any museum would want this.”

The paintings also fill a void that the Met — and several other premiere art institutions — have on their walls when it comes to south Asian art. Mughal paintings were once the most popular among wealthy collectors, foreign royalty and even Russian czars. However, Rajput paintings are more colorful and reflect what can be seen in India today, said Milo C. Beach, an Indian-art specialist and former director of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery.

“It’s a much more alive kind of painting,” Beach said. “Because of this gift,” he continued, “the Met will be unrivaled in Rajput paintings among American museums.”

Kossak began collecting Indian paintings back in the 70s, and his collection grew larger after joining the Met’s staff — through the museum’s network, he was introduced to more expansive web of art dealers. During his tenure at the Met from 1986 until 2006, Kossak did all he could to form a complete Rajput collection. “When the Met couldn’t afford it, I bought it,” he said.

Though the museum was reluctant to accept the situation, there was no stopping Kossak.

“The basic rule at the Met then was one of trust,” said Philippe de Montebello, the museum’s director at the time. “He would have brought it to the attention of the museum, and said ‘If you’re not going to go after it, then I will.’ ”

‘Rama and Sita in the Forest: A Thorn Is Removed from Rama’s Foot,’ from the Punjab Hills (c. 1800-10)

‘Rama and Sita in the Forest: A Thorn Is Removed from Rama’s Foot,’ from the Punjab Hills (c. 1800-10)

The collection has never officially been valued — early on, Kossak would have paid less than $50,000 for one of the paintings. Now, dealers say several of them could fetch between $500,000 and $800,000, with some of his rarest pieces going for a few million dollars each. Kossak estimates the gift to the museum is worth between $15 and $20 million.

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