Maria Phoutrides

Maria Phoutrides


States of Legibility: Mohammad Kibria, 1950-1970



“States of Legibility” focuses on the works of Bangladeshi artist Mohammad Kibria, particularly those from the 1950s-1970s, the decades around the time in which the artist studied in Japan at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music. The paper examines how the network of artistic exchange between Bengal and Japan has persisted and transformed through periods of decolonization and independence. I situate Kibria’s practice within the historical context of Pan-Asianism and engage more recent scholarship on calligraphic and global modernism. The paper proposes a reading of the artist’s work that considers the shifting relationship between the artist and the nation-state in postcolonial Bengal, as well as the hazy distinction between word and image in calligraphic modernism.



Maria Phoutrides received her MA in Art History from the UW School of Art + Art History + Design in spring 2019. She specializes in modern and contemporary art of South Asia, with a particular focus on the region of Bengal. Her research interests include mobility, place, and networks of exchange in artistic practice. At the University of Washington, she organized various events for the Division of Art History including the graduate colloquium series, the Jugalbandi symposium on Indian painting, and the Rethinking the Global Turn series. She also supported Dr. Sonal Khullar’s research projects and served as a curatorial intern for Dr. Xiaojin Wu at the Seattle Art Museum. Maria speaks Hindi, Bangla, and Japanese.



  • Master of Arts, Art History, University of Washington
  • Bachelor of Arts, Art History and International Relations, University of Southern California





  • 2019, de Cillia Graduate Student Graduating with Excellence Award
  • 2019, Pell Research Award, School of Art + Art History + Design
  • 2018-2019, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (Bengali)
  • 2018, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (Bengali)
  • 2018, American Institute of Indian Studies (Bengali Intensive Language Program)
  • 2017-2018, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (Bengali)



  • Sonal Khullar, Committee Chair (Art History)
  • Adair Rounthwaite (Art History)
  • Sudhir Mahadevan (Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media)