Nalini N. Rao

Nalini N. Rao, PhD

Faculty - Full-Time
Headshot of Nalini Rao
Associate Professor of World Art

Nalini N. Rao joined the Soka University of America faculty as professor of world art in September 2000. Rao came to SUA from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she taught courses in Survey of Asian Art, Art of India and Southeast Asia. Before that, she was an assistant professor of art at the University of Hawaii, Hilo (1998), and she was a consulting curator for Asian Art at the Amarillo Museum of Art in Texas (1997). Prior to that, she was an instructor of the Buddhist Art of India & Southeast Asia at California State University, Long Beach (1996) and Instructor in History of Western Art at California State University, Northridge (1995).

Rao resides in Mission Viejo, California.

  • MA University of Marathawada, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India–History, Art, and Architecture, S.E. Asia; 1973
  • PhD History, University of Mysore, Mysore, India–Ancient History and Archaeology; 1981
  • PhD Art History, University of California, Los Angeles–Indian Art, Classical Art, Islamic Art; 1991
  • Introduction to Art History
  • Introduction to Visual Culture
  • Modern Art
  • Asian Art
  • Architecture and Urban Planning
  • Women in Art and Visual Culture
  • Buddhist Art of Asia
  • History of Indian Civilization
  • Gandhi and Modern India
  • Core: Enduring Questions
  • Learning Clusters:
    • Native Americans
    • LA Architecture
    • Yoga for Personal Transformation
    • Kashmir Conflict
    • Indian Theater
  • Hindu Monasteries in South India
  • Relic Worship in Hindu and Buddhist Monasteries
  • The Vrindavana and the Buddhist Stupa
  • The Educational Institution in India
  • Narrative Art in Mughal, Rajasthani and Pahari Paintings

Books and Book Chapters

  • Rao, Nalini. Lothal Bhavya Sanskrutinna Avshesho (લોથલ ભવ્ય સંસ્કૃતિનના અવશેષો) [Lothal: A Glorious Civilization]. Ahmedabad: Navbharat Publications, 2018.
  • Rao, Nalini. “Contribution of Lothal and Dvaraka to Indian Archaeology in Felicitating an Archaeologist.” In Felicitating an Archaeologist: Prof B. B. Lal, edited by B. R. Mani, Rajesh Lal, Neera Misra and Vinay Kumar, 217-26. 3 vols. Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corporation, 2018.
  • Rao, Nalini. “Relation between Art and Archaeology: Its Possibilities in Maritime Studies in India” In Searches on Indus Civilization and Maritime Archaeology in India, edited by A. S. Gaur and Sundaresh, 111-116. Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan, 2015
  • Rao, Nalini, ed. Sindhu-Sarasvatī Civilization: New Perspectives. Los Angeles: Nalanda International, 2014.

Journal Articles

  • Rao, Nalini. “Journey to the Beyond: Expressionist Paintings and Poetry of Rabindranath Tagore.” Nidan -International Journal for Indian Studies. Dec 2017, Vol 2, no. 2017 (34-56).
  • Rao, Nalini. “Image and Word in the Works of Rabindranath Tagore.” Nidan: International Journal for Indian Studies 2, no. 2 (December 2017): 1-22.
  • Rao, Nalini. “The Role and Status of the King’s Priest in Kāmbujadeśa.” Nidan: International Journal for Indian Studies 2, no. 1 (July 2017): 1-12.
  • Rao, Nalini. “Navaratri in South India. Symbolism and Power in Royal Rituals.” Sagar: A South Asia Research Journal. 2016, XXIV. 94-125.
  • Rao, Nalini. “Royal Religious Beneficence in Pre-Modern India: Social and Political Implications.” International Journal of Dharma Studies 4, no. 1 (July 2016): 1-14.
  • Rao, Nalini. “Navaratri in South India. Symbolism and Power in Royal Rituals,” Sagar: A South Asia Research Journal, XXIV. (July 2016): 94-125.
  • Rao, N, and Banerji, Debashish: Yoga: The Art of Transformation, curated by Debra Diamond. An Exhibition Review. Exemplar. 2.2, (Fall 2014): pp. 41-49.
  • Rao, Nalini. The Aesthetics of Visual Perception in relation to Indian Temple Art: The dynamics of architecture and Sculpture. Kala: the Journal of Indian Art History Congress. Vol XIX, 2013-2014

Conference Presentations

  • Sakta Tantra in Material Visual Culture. South Asian Studies Association. March. Claremont. CA 2019.
  • The Hindu Monastery in South India. International Conference on The Growth and Development of Indian Culture: Historical and Cultural Perspectives. Prehistoric Period -- 12th C CE. Bangalore, India. 2018
  • International Conference on The Growth and Development of Indian Culture: Historical and Cultural Perspectives. Prehistoric Period -12th C CE. Bangalore, India. 2018
  • Archaeology and Community Identity: The Case of Siddhapur in Western India. SASA. March 2018
  • Knowledge of the Past Challenges of Justification, Interpretation and Preservation: Case of Dvaraka Mahabharata Manthan. New Delhi. July 2017
  • Aesthetics of Indian Temple Architecture. SASA. Claremont, CA. March 2017
  • The Kalacakra Mandala in Vajrayana Buddhism. International Conference on Tradition and Innovation in Vajrayana Buddhism: A Mandala of 21st Century Perspectives. Thimphu, Bhutan.July 2016.
  • Heritage Tourism: Introduction, Meaning and its relation to Historical Preservation Colloquium: Heritage Tourism and Historical Preservation. Bangalore. Mythic Society. Aug 2015
  • Continuities and Transformations in the Aniconic Symbols of the Buddha in Kanaganaha Recently Discovered Buddhist Site in Karnataka, South India SSEASR, University of Kelaniya. Sri Lanka. June 2015
  • Religious Kingship in Angkor and South India: The Importance of the Purohita or of the King’s Priest. Religious Studies Experts Conference in Cambodia: Understanding the Old and Tracing the New. Siem Reap. Cambodia. June 2012
  • Image and Word in South Asian Art: Understanding the paintings of Rabindranath Tagore. South Asian Studies Association, Claremont. April 2012
  • Power and Patronage in the Making of Indo-Greek Art in Northwest India. International Conference on Fine and Performing Arts, Athens, Greece. June 2010
  • Artistic Interaction between Greece and India in Northwest India: Role of Royal and Religious Establishments. South Asian Studies Association, Los Angeles. May 2010
  • Ganges in Indian Sculpture and Literature: Myth and Personification: Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast. Soka University of American. June 2009
  • Aniconic Sculpture or Architecture: Interaction between Buddhist and Hindu Images in South India. Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast. Victoria. Canada. June 2008
  • Contemporary Interpretation and Traditional Concepts in Modern Indian Art: 1950-1980. South Asian Studies Association, Los Angeles. May 2008
  • One and Many in Hinduism: Artistic and Literary References. Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast, Honolulu. June 2007
  • Royal Legacy in Mysore: Interaction between Vijayanagara and Mysore. Seminar on the Wodeyars of Mysore. Museum of Fine Arts. Houston, 2006
  • Authority and Celebration in South India. Sangama: A Confluence of Cultures. International Conference. New York, Houston, Los Angeles. Nov. 2005
  • Temple Rituals: The Case of Chandralamba. Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast. June 2005
  • The Modern and Postmodern in Contemporary Indian Art. Seminar on Contemporary Art of India. Soka University of America. Feb.2005
  • Fresh Approach to the Study of Buddhist and Hindu Monasteries. 15th Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia. Canberra. June 2004.
  • The Image of the Goddess in Contemporary India: The Interrelation between Art, Ritual and Design with a Special Emphasis on the Eye Opening Ceremony. Annual Meeting of the Art Historians of Southern California. Los Angeles. 2001.
  • Concept of the Self as depicted in Modern Indian Art. Seminar on Contemporary Art in India Pondicherry. Dec.2001
  • The Institutionalization of the Guru in Ritual, History and Art of India. Art Historians of Southern California, Annual Meeting, Los Angeles.1999
  • Traditions and Anomalies: Problems in Interpretation of South Asian Art. College Art Association, Los Angeles. CA.1998
  • Art and Role of Hindu Monasteries in Medieval India. Twenty-sixth Annual Conference on South Asia, Madison, Wisconsin.1997
  • The Politics of Gift Giving. Religion, Society and Ideology as recapitulated in Art. Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast. Monterey, California .1997
  • Alternate Histories: Examining the overlooked Perspectives in Indian Art History–Panel Chair: Annual South Asia Conference at Center for South Asian Studies, UCB, Berkeley. 1996.
  • Kingship, Ritual and Art at Vijayanagara: An Analysis of the reliefs on the Mahanavami Dibba at Hampi. South Asia Conference. Center for South Asian Studies, Berkeley.1992
  • Raghavendra Swamy Center at Mantralaya -- Representation of death in Religious Structures. Conference, Religion in South India’ at Williamstown, Massachusetts.1991
  • Depiction of Indian Sea Gods and Goddesses in Literature, Epigraphy and Art. Second Indian Conference on Marine Archaeology of Indian Ocean Countries, National Institute of Oceanography, Goa. 1990
  • The Hindu Moslem Rift -- Panel Chair. Symposium on the Film Gandhi. University of Houston, Texas. 1983
  • Art and Sanskrit Literature: Text and Imagery in the Paintings in Western Indian caves. Sanskrit Conference on poet Kalidasa. University of Bangalore. 1980.

Teaching Experience

  • 2006-2016, Associate Professor of World Art, Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, CA. Asian Art, South and S.E. Asian Art, East Asian Art, Indian Archaeology, Modern Art, Modern Architecture, Indian History and Culture, Classical Art, East Asian Painting and Sculpture, Contemporary Visual Culture, Core Courses, Learning Clusters.
  • 2000-06, Assistant Professor of World Art, SUA
  • 1999, Instructor, Asian Art, USC, CA. Asian Art I & II, Art of India and S. E. Asia: Graduate level
  • 1997-98, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Art, University of Hawaii, Hilo. Introduction to Art History, Asian Art, East Asian Art, Western Art, Modern Art.
  • 1997, Consulting Curator for Asian Art. Amarillo Museum of Art, Texas
  • 1996, Instructor, Asian Art, CSULB. Art of India & Southeast Asian Art, Asian Traditions
  • 1995, Instructor, Western Art, CSUN
  • 1994, Instructor, California State University, Long Beach, CA. Indian & Southeast Asian Art I & II; Asian Traditions
  • 1993, Instructor, California State University, Northridge, CA. Advanced Course in Asian Art, Survey of Western Art
  • 1992–94, Instructor, Dept. of Asian American Studies, UCLA. Indo-American Experience.
  • 1992, Lecturer, Art History, UCI. Asian art, later I art Hindu Art & Religion, Islamic Art and Religion, Indian Archaeology
  • 1992, Instructor, Chinese and Japanese Art; Asian History. Woodbury University, Burbank, CA
  • 1990, Instructor, Buddhist Art of India; Art of South East Asia. California State University, Long Beach, CA
  • 1988, Instructor, Art of India; Art of South East Asia California State University, Fullerton, CA
  • 1988, Instructor, Major Art Monuments of India; Art and Architecture of India. University of California, Extension Los Angeles, CA
  • 1982-83, Instructor, Survey of Western Art; Indian Painting. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
  • 1981-83, Visiting Adjunct Associate Professor of Asian History and Culture. University of Houston, Texas
  • 1977-80, Assistant, Archeological Survey of India, Bangalore, India. Conservation, Excavation, and Curatorial experience
  • 1974-75, Instructor, History, College of Arts and Science, Aurangabad, India.

Museum Experience

  • 2000-2008, Art Gallery, Soka University of America, Ca. Designed, organized world art exhibitions. Marketing, art education talks, co-ordination of artistic, social and cultural activities. Involvement in student art.
  • Curator: Art of the Sindhu- Sarasvati Civilization. Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, 2014
  • Curator: Modern Chinese Painting in Los Angeles. Soka University of America, 2006
  • Curator: Contours of Modernity: An Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art. 2005
  • Designer: Gallery of Indus Script in Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Tirupati.S. India. 2003
  • Designer, Curator: Weaving the Earth in Harmony: An Exhibition of Native American Art from the Collection of the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art and Photographs by Eugene Lally. Soka University of America. 2003
  • Organizer: Exhibition Bridges to Freedom: One man show by Gerome Gestaldi. Soka University of America. 2001
  • Organizer, Curator: Boundaries and Transformations: Exhibition of South and Southeast Asian Art from the Collection of Dr. Price. Seminar and Events. Amarillo, Texas (1997).
  • 1997, Curator of Asian Art, Amarillo Museum of Art, Amarillo, Texas Cataloging, organizing exhibitions, educational lectures, interpretation
  • 2001, Workshops on Museum Display and Art Education in Paul Getty Museum Ca.
  • 1994, Workshops in CSULB: Web and Art Images
  • 1985-86, Cataloging, Art Images. Dept. of Art History. UCLA.
  • 1975-80, Assistant to Director of Tourism, KSTDC, Bangalore. Training docents, guides.
  • IGNCA Award for Narrative Art in South India, 2014-15.
  • ICAC, Bowers Museum. Award for Presentation, 2011.
  • Kannada Sangha of Arizona, Award of Excellence, 2010.
  • PBRC Award for Research in Indian Art, 2004, 2010.
  • Research Award. University of Hawaii, 1998.
  • PhD Research Award, Dept. of Art History, UCL, 1988.
  • PhD Fellowship, University of Mysore, Mysore, 1978.
  • Merit Scholarship, Marathawada University, Aurangabad, 1973.