New exhibit to feature rare art from Nepal, Tibet

Padmapani, Central Tibet, 12th Century, 19.5 Inches.

Padmapani, Central Tibet, 12th Century, 19.5 Inches.

The Daily Beacon (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
Thursday, September 10, 2015 12:00 am
Altaf Nanavati, Copy Editor

“The mind is everything, what you think you become.”

In line with the words of Siddhartha Gautama, the McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture will seek to expand the minds of the UT student body with the opening of their new exhibit entitled, “Embodying Enlightenment: Buddhist Art of the Himalayas,” this Friday, Sept. 11.

The exhibit will take attendees on an exploration of Buddhist culture and art, featuring paintings and sculptures of religious deities. The featured items will also be coupled with explanations on how the various objects, related to both trade and travel, were integral in keeping the Buddhist artistic tradition strong to the present day.

The articles featured in the exhibit range from the 8th century through the present.
Throughout the fall semester, the museum will be holding a wide variety of events related to the exhibit including a lecture series hosted by professors at UT, a meditative experience hosted by Prasad Hutter, director of the Acupuncture & Awareness Center of Knoxville, and numerous tours which will allow attendees from outside the University to explore the exhibit.

From Sept. 22-25, the museum will also have Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta come and create sand mandalas.

Suzanne Wright, an art professor who specializes in Asian visual art, will be teaching a class for the remainder of the fall semester on the objects presented at the exhibit and their importance.

Instead of covering the art of South and Southeast Asia, Wright has shifted her class curriculum to examine works of art from Nepal and Tibet shown at the exhibit. She said that because the items within the exhibit are rare, they will take up at least a third of the course.

“I think it is really important for students to be able to look at actual works of art, especially since we have a very limited number of Asian art objects in this area,” Wright said. “This provides us with a whole body of related material that students can go over and study, and it will give them a much better sense of what these pieces really look like in terms of scale.”

Christine Dano Johnson, curatorial assistant at McClung Museum, also recognizes the importance of seeing such artistic treasures first-hand rather than on the pages of a textbook.
“It’s an opportunity for students to be able to go into the museum and see the iconography and see the different styles instead of just reading about it in a book or see a picture,” Johnson said.

The exhibit is scheduled to run until Jan. 3, 2016.

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