Join contemporary artist Gonkar Gyatso and art historian Melissa R. Kerin in a discussion about Buddha’s Picnic, an installation by Gyatso now on view at Washington and Lee University’s Staniar Gallery in Lexington, Virginia. Buddha’s Picnic is a modern shrine filled with mass-produced Buddhist devotional objects including electric prayer wheels spouting mantras in Tibetan, neon-colored Buddha statues, and flashing lotus lights. The installation provides a compelling contrast to the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room in the Sackler exhibition Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia.
Gonkar Gyatso is a Tibetan-born British artist (born 1961) currently living and working in Chengdu, China. He studied Chinese brush painting in Beijing and in 1984 attained a BA in traditional Tibetan scroll painting (thangka). In 2000 he earned an MA in fine art from the Chelsea College of Arts in London. Gyatso is the founder of the Sweet Tea House, a contemporary art gallery in London dedicated to showing Tibetan work. Gyatso’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Rubin Museum of Art; Chinese National Art Gallery; Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art; Courtauld Institute of Art; and Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art.
Melissa R. Kerin is an art historian who works on the art and material culture of South Asia from the medieval and contemporary periods. Along with a number of articles, Kerin has authored two books, Artful Beneficence: Selections from the David Nalin Collection (Rubin Publications, 2009) and Art and Devotion at a Buddhist Temple in the Indian Himalaya (Indiana University Press, 2015), which was awarded the Edward C. Dimock, Jr. Prize in the Indian Humanities. She is currently finishing a manuscript titled Bodies of Offerings: The Materiality and Vitality of Tibetan Buddhist Shrines. Kerin holds a PhD in art history from the University of Pennsylvania and an MTS from Harvard Divinity School.