Saturday, April 11, 2009


I spent a portion of last Thursday afternoon in the Cantor Museum at Stanford, marveling at their exhibits in the Asian section of the Museum. I found some images of the Buddha, each looking quite different from the image from the Gandhara collection. This should not be too surprising.

The first known renderings of the Buddha—that of Siddhartha Gautama, the Supreme Buddha and founder of Buddhism—that appeared in the first and second centuries was from ancient India. As Buddhism continued to spread outside of India—northeast to Tibet, the Himalayas, Nepal, over to China, Burma, Indonesia, Japan, and Korea—the artists depicted in the faces of Buddha, the facial features of the people living in these lands. In addition, Buddha's ethereal features were emphasized, while its human features were de-emphasized and somewhat abstract. Hence, the multiplicity of these images.

The Asian wing of the Cantor Museum has been renovated subsequent to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The retrofitted and newer sections of this wing lend character to the bronze exhibits as well as, ironically, provide a contrast to the fragile jade collection and ceramics exhibited around the stairwell leading to the second floor. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time to see the entire collection or even take a glimpse of what was upstairs. This vast acquisition of the Stanford family cannot be feasted upon in just one afternoon. In fact, I will be going back again, perhaps on a Saturday,when I don’t have to fret about the parking meter running out of time.

Moreover, I’d also like to see the exhibition Pop to Present (March 18-August 16, 2009), “the third in a yearlong series of exhibitions highlighting the museum's acquisitions from the past decade”, according to Hilarie Faberman, the Center's curator of modern and contemporary art. “Our collection program has been very active this last decade. This 10-year anniversary of the museum's reopening after the Loma Prieta earthquake provides the opportunity to celebrate the Center's growth and share the enthusiasm of curators who have purchased art for the collection and collectors who have donated works.”

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I continue to seek quiet and peace throughout my busy working day, and look forward to those moments late at night, when the rest of the house is asleep. Ironically, it is in these quiet hours that my mind triggers into action and I find myself absorbed in thinking, planning, writing, or just some feverish, soul-searching activity. My active mind somehow generates a sense of calm within me, and I am happy doing what I am. I feel content and attain some sense of accomplishment.

The first piece of art I have chosen is the Meditating Buddha, from Gandhara, second century CE. style="font-family:verdana;" I have always been fascinated by the Buddha ever since I learned about him in History in grade school. To me, the Buddha is the embodiment of peace. Seated in a cross-legged yogic stance in this piece, he assumes the classical pose, depicting dignity, reverence, and humility. His hands overlap palms upward, in the gesture of meditation and tranquility. His quest for knowledge lead him to Nirvana, or enlightenment.

I believe in his Eightfold Path to nirvana, which includes: style="font-family:verdana;"right knowledge, right aspiration, right speech, right behavior, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation.

I see my children as my reward for nurturing them with love and joy. Consequently, the second piece of art I have chosen is Michelangelo's Pietá from the Renaissance art in sixteenth century Europe, now housed at St. Peter's, Vatican, Rome. The Pietá epitomizes for me, the deep-rooted and selfless love a mother has for her children. One look at the magnificently sculptured young son enveloped securely in his mother's lap in the folds of her flowing garment, is enough to stir the deepest feeling of motherhood.

Just as Michelangelo set free the Pietá from the block of marble—the rock he fondly cradled and carved—so too, I will set free my two young children into the world, confident that they will carve a better life for themselves, and respect the hand that rocked their cradle.

I have dabbled with different forms of art ranging from pencil sketching to working with stained glass. But what I have enjoyed immensely is creating Batik, a form of fabric art using wax resists and dyes. Instead of using some of the traditional designs for Batik, I found myself veering towards the exotic woodblock prints of the Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro. I found these prints very conducive to rendering in Batik. I think this is because both Batik and Utamaro's prints successfully use abstraction of lines and simplified shapes to give form to the images.

My third piece of art is Kitagawa Utamaro's Woman at the Height of Her Beauty. Here "the elaboration of surface detail combined with an effort to capture the essence of form", making the images "simplified and elegant." (Marilyn Stokstad)