George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art and Interim Curator of Islamic Art
Sonya Rhie Quintanilla began her tenure as the George P. Bickford Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art in September of 2012. Having reinstalled the Indian and Southeast Asian collection in December 2013, she continues to develop the collections. Drawing upon the strengths of the museum’s holdings in her area of research, she is responsible for teaching and publishing, as well as conceiving and implementing exhibitions.
Quintanilla joined the museum after serving for eight years as curator of Asian Art at the San Diego Museum of Art. In addition to curating special exhibitions in San Diego on Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Himalayan, Southeast Asian, and Islamic art, Sonya installed their expanded Asian permanent collection galleries, featuring the Edwin Binney 3rd collection of Indian paintings. She also taught Indian and Tibetan art history at UC Irvine, UCLA, and UC San Diego.
At the San Diego Museum of Art, Sonya curated the groundbreaking exhibition Rhythms of India: The Art of Nandalal Bose, which involved a partnership with the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi and traveled to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2008. Her exhibition Into India: South Asian Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art was on view at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art in Madrid, the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City, and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec between 2012 and 2015.
Quintanilla completed her BA at Smith College in 1993 and her PhD at Harvard University where her dissertation focused on early Indian sculpture. The book that grew out of this work, History of Early Stone Sculpture at Mathura, ca. 150 BCE–100 CE (Brill 2007), provides a comprehensive analysis and chronology of the earliest known stone sculptures from the ancient cosmopolitan center of Mathura in northern India with a focus on the early formulation of figural images of the Buddha and Jinas. Her current research on the Buddhist relief sculptures of the recently excavated site of Kanaganahalli in southwestern India is being prepared for publication in 2016.