20 January 2009

A Look at Tibetan Contemporary Art

After browsing the zillions of goings-on posted on Creative Loafing’s and Sunday Paper’s local events pages, I decided last week’s New Thing would be the Tibetan Contemporary Art exhibit at Oglethorpe University’s Museum of Art. The combination of the words “Tibetan” and “contemporary” had me pretty curious, as in, What have they done to the Buddha?

Well, they’ve done quite a few things to the Buddha: a collage of beauty product advertisements and road maps (with Philadelphia cleverly located at Buddha’s heart) in one representation, and a silver circuit-board overlay in another. On one hand, I was expecting something like that, but on the other, it seemed trite. I was hoping for something a little harder to pull off. Maybe a beautiful, breathtaking rendering of what Buddhism represents—that pure element that is impossible to put into words, but could possibly be glimpsed in art. Of course, religion isn’t the entirety of Tibetan culture, and religion isn’t the only theme of the exhibit. Definitely. Still... nothing wowed me.

But this New Thing was not a letdown. Far from it. The gorgeous Gothic revival architecture at Oglethorpe is reason alone to visit the campus. As I was walking through the narrow alley from the parking lot to the museum entrance, I felt transported back in time about 100 years, to New England or possibly England itself. Hmm, I guess I was wowed after all.

By the way, if you’d like to read an expert’s review of the exhibit, check out Dr. Jerry Cullum’s Counterforces blog. As I’m typing this, his review isn’t yet posted, but he was at the exhibit taking notes while I was taking photos. I think I talked to him longer than I looked at the art, asking why he liked this or didn’t like that. Anyway, I suspect his review will be way more informative than my three-word, “nothing wowed me” review. I’m looking forward to reading it.

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