‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

Filmmaker Travis Knight talks about the Buddhist elements in the just released animated movie, ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’:

“Q: There’s a strain of Buddhism throughout the film — this idea that lives don’t end with death and live on in memories. Apart from it being set in Ancient Japan, where did that come from?
Knight: My mother-in-law and her family are Buddhists. That kind of spirituality is not something you typically see in film. I think it spoke to the basic idea about losing something that matters to you, which is a fundamental part of life. You don’t get through life unscathed. Being able to explore those ideas through the prism of fantasy and animation really allows parents and children to experience those things together, in a way they can understand. Sometimes these ideas are difficult to articulate, but in a film, if done in a poetic way, those things can make sense and you can talk about them.”

 

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An equal music

Caste is never far from Dalit pop. Young musicians like Thenmozhi Soundararajan say their music is inspired by and rooted in struggle. Photos: Special Arrangement

Caste is never far from Dalit pop. Young musicians like Thenmozhi Soundararajan say their music is inspired by and rooted in struggle. Photos: Special Arrangement

The Hindu
August 20, 2016
RAHI GAIKWAD

A hip young generation of singers is putting Dalit pop right on top of the charts

“I don’t want to talk of caste, I want to break it,” declares Ginni Mahi, the 17-year-old Punjabi folk-cum-pop singer from Jalandhar who has been making waves. Her latest track ‘Fan Baba Sahib Di’ (‘Ambedkar’s Fan’) proclaims her admiration for the architect of the Constitution and his emancipatory thoughts and writings. “I sing of Guru Ravidas, Guru Nanak, Kabir and Ambedkar. Their message was of equality and they called for an end to caste discrimination.”

Mahi is just one of a new generation of performers who are reinventing the music of the Dalit movement by mixing existing folk traditions with Western genres and attracting newer and younger crowds of listeners.

The Dalit movement has, down the years, given birth to many shairs (poets), folk musicians and balladeers, who sing paeans to Babasaheb, spreading his message across the country, speaking of breaking the shackles of inequality and exploitative Brahminical structures. Much of this revolutionary music, for example, the vast repertoire of ‘Bhim Geet’ (Ambedkar songs) in Maharashtra, has been the lifeblood of rights agitations from the start. Today, the singers have bigger dreams. Mahi, for instance, dreams of becoming a playback singer in Bollywood. They see themselves as having a far more universal appeal than their older counterparts did. Not so long ago, playback singers and musicians were known to hide their caste identity. The new lot flaunts it. Their lyrics are from their history, their videos replete with Ambedkar photos and Buddhist iconography.

“Folk songs and poetry were the old methods of spreading the message of equality. Ambedkar praised poets for putting ideas across so easily,” says singer-musician Kabeer Shakya from Navi Mumbai, who, in 2011, founded Dhamma Wings, which he calls an Ambedkarite Buddhist gospel band. “Today, you have to convey the same thing in a modern way. The Buddhist community is well-educated. That’s why we have started composing music in English. We perform in colleges; rock and pop work. Even non-Buddhists like my music.”

But caste is never far away from Dalit pop. As Shakya says, “Our whole identity is because of Ambedkar.” Pointing to his single ‘Deewana Buddha Bhim ji ka’, he says, “I am from a backward community. Someone injected a sickness [of caste] in our community. A doctor [Ambedkar] came and cured it. I represent the cured generation. Naturally, I will be his fan, his deewana. You will find the same sentiment everywhere. Ambedkar is a symbol of struggle.” Continue reading

Thangka artist Joanna Angie to kick off fall exhibits at Roz Steiner Gallery

Submitted artwork by thangka artist Joanna Angie as featured in new exhibit at GCC's Roz Steiner Gallery called "Meditation."

Submitted artwork by thangka artist Joanna Angie as featured in new exhibit at GCC’s Roz Steiner Gallery called “Meditation.”

August 8, 2016 – 12:44pm

Press release:

The schedule is now in place for artists and exhibits that will be featured in the Rosalie “Roz” Steiner Art Gallery this fall at Genesee Community College, and thangka (Tibetan buddhist painting) artist Joanna Angie will display her works from Aug. 22 – Sept. 24 to begin the season.

Evident in her artwork, Angie has a strong sense of connection to Tibetan spiritual practice. Through thangka, a traditional Tibetan form of religious art dating back to the 11th century, Joanna seeks to convey images of compassion, community and knowledge.

“What I found in the Tibetan spiritual practice and thangka paintings was a natural sense of connection,” Angie said. “The images stand for qualities we can develop such as compassion, community and knowledge, knowing there was no good judging me, just cause and effect.”

Angie is the daughter of an Italian immigrant who escaped Mussolini’s wrath and was proud of his American citizenship. After her father’s death when she was just 14 years old, faith slowly came to her and school teachers and college professors became new guides in her life. After graduating Bennett College, Angie opened a gourmet food business, but became very sick by the age of 28. Relocation to Massachusetts exposed her to a Tibetan healer and a hatha yoga teacher, giving her new opportunities to heal and figured immensely into her healing process.

As a community-engaged artist, Joanna has worked on numerous projects including the public art project to commemorate the Centennial of the Pan-American Exposition in 2001. She was an active member of the Community Outreach Committee for the 2006 visit to Buffalo by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and in 2005, 2007 and 2010; she was an active participant in Beyond/In WNY Exhibitions, collaboration between visual arts organizations in the Western New York Region. Her mural commissions include work at Carnegie Hall Towers and William Hurt’s residence in New York City and at St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Buffalo Club in Buffalo.

Founder of the Buffalo Arts Studio and acting director from 1991-2012, Angie has exhibited her work at galleries in Buffalo, including Anderson Gallery, Buffalo Arts Studio, CEPA, El Museo, Hallwalls, Contemporary Arts Center, Himalayan Institute of Buffalo, Insight Gallery; as well as the Kenan Center in Lockport, Olean Public Library Art Gallery and the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn.

In addition to its aesthetic beauty as a work of art, thangka serves as an object of devotion, an aid to spiritual practice, and a source of blessings to those who meditate upon it. Joanna’s exhibition “Mediation” will be shown Aug. 22 – Sept. 24 and an opening reception is planned for Sept. 8 beginning at 1 p.m. The exhibition will close with a reception on Sept. 24 beginning at 1 p.m. during GCC’s Homecoming festivities. Continue reading

Leicester City: Listed building to get Buddhist mural

Artists' impression of a Leicester City mural for the side of the Newarke Houses MuseumImage copyrightLEICESTER CITY COUNCIL

Artists’ impression of a Leicester City mural for the side of the Newarke Houses MuseumImage copyrightLEICESTER CITY COUNCIL

BBC News
11 August 2016

The mural will feature Buddhist images, celebrating the Thai heritage of Leicester City’s owners

A Grade-II* listed building is to be temporarily decorated with a mural to celebrate Leicester City’s Premier League title win, despite opposition.

Historic England said it could “harm the appreciation and understanding” of the Newarke Houses Museum.

But the city council has approved placing the mural on the building for two years.

It is one of six pieces of art which the council has commissioned to celebrate the Foxes’ 5,000-1 success.

The mural, which features Buddhist images, will celebrate the Thai heritage of Leicester City’s owners.

The Foxes stunned the Premier League by winning the title by 10 points in May.

Councillor Ted Cassidy said: “The committee took into account the objections and views of Historic England and decided that on balance, this was acceptable for that particular part of the building.

“It may in fact encourage people to go to that side.”

Three murals have already been painted on to walls in the city to celebrate the title win.

Historic England had hoped the council would find a “less sensitive” building for the latest mural to be painted. Continue reading

SPECIAL SCREENING OF THE GREAT TRANSMISSION AT LUCASFILM

LucasfilmPoster_webAUGUST 1, 2016
You are invited to a special screening of The Great Transmission at Lucasfilm’s Premier Theater in San Francisco on Friday, August 26th, 2016!

Doors open at 6:30 pm. Film screens at 7:00 pm, followed by Q & A with the Director.

No food is allowed in the theater, but there is a restaurant called Sessions on the Lucasfilm campus. We recommend making an evening of it!

RSVP’s are required.

For event details and reservations, please visit our Eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-great-transmission-sf-screening-at-lucasfilm-registration-26732501632

Donations are greatly appreciated.

We accept online donations through Paypal: http://gunafoundation.org/site/?page_id=734

Secrets of Buddhist Art: Tibet, Japan, and Korea at Frist Center, 2017

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February 10–May 7, 2017
Secrets of Buddhist Art: Tibet, Japan, and Korea
Ingram Gallery

Tibet, Japan, and Korea all practice a form of esoteric or “secret” Buddhism. Called Vajrayana Buddhism, this form utilizes works of art that reveal a complex array of both human and divine figures. This exhibition showcases superlative works from the Newark Museum’s first-rate collection and will make its first appearance at the Frist Center, introducing a general audience to the dazzling aesthetics of Buddhist art and providing a basic understanding of these objects’ function within Buddhist practice.

This exhibition was organized by the Newark Museum.

Aizen Myo-o (King of Bright Passion) Zushi Shrine with Bishamonten (Guardian of the North), Fudo Myo-o (Immovable Protector), Juichimen Kannon (Bodhisattva of Compassion), the Monk Kukai, Japan, Edo Period (1603–1868). Wood, gold, colors, lacquer, wires, and metal fastenings. Newark Museum, Purchase 1909 George T. Rockwell Collection, 9.858

Aizen Myo-o (King of Bright Passion) Zushi Shrine with Bishamonten (Guardian of the North), Fudo Myo-o (Immovable Protector), Juichimen Kannon (Bodhisattva of Compassion), the Monk Kukai, Japan, Edo Period (1603–1868). Wood, gold, colors, lacquer, wires, and metal fastenings. Newark Museum, Purchase 1909 George T. Rockwell Collection, 9.858

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art Acquires Rare Nepalese Crown from Barbara Levy Kipper

2CA5C1CE6-F2F9-1DE6-B7A328EC99B14B47Broadway World News, August 1

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Acquires Rare Nepalese Crown from Barbara Levy Kipper
Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today that collector Barbara Levy Kipper has donated to the Museum an extraordinarily rare Nepalese ritual crown in gilt copper, dating from the late 13th or 14th century. Such crowns are worn by Nepalese Vajracarya priests who perform Vajrayana Buddhist ceremonies on behalf of devotees.

Mr. Campbell said, “Thanks to the generosity of Barbara Levy Kipper and her late husband David, this exceptionally early Esoteric Buddhist ritual object is now a centerpiece of The Met’s holdings of Nepalese art. The crown will greatly enrich our display of South Asian art.”

John Guy, the Museum’s Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia, added: “This gift from the Kippers demonstrates a very high standard of copper repoussé artistry, in which the Newari metal workers excelled. Very few elaborate ritual crowns, of such early date and in such remarkable condition, have survived to this day.”

Mrs. Kipper stated, “I am pleased that the crown is now reunited at The Met with other significant objects that were once part of the Zimmerman Family Collection.”

The hereditary Vajracarya Buddhist priests of Nepal, who would have worn such a magnificently crafted crown, occupy the highest rank in the Nepalese Buddhist community. They serve as the officiating ritual agents of Vajrayana Buddhism as practiced in Nepal. The term Vajracarya denotes a person of high caste belonging to a family lineage entitled to perform priestly functions, including the Fire Sacrifice. Only the sons of Vajracaryas are admitted as Vajra-masters, entitling them to perform reserved priestly functions for others. These are analogous to the privileges held by Brahmins in Hinduism, who also enjoy hereditary and exclusive rights over ritual service. Continue reading