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Opening Celebration for ‘Across Shared Waters’

February 24 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

A closeup image shows the Buddha in a traditional Tibetan Thangka at the Williams College Museum of Art. Press photo courtesy of WCMA from the Jack Shear Collection
Williams College Museum of Art

WCMA holds the opening celebration of Across Shared Waters: Contemporary Artists in Dialogue with Tibetan Art from the Jack Shear Collection, with time for viewing the exhibition and mingling from 4 to 5 p.m. before a public conversation between curator Ariana Maki and two contemporary artists who have artwork in the show, Marie-Dolma Chophel, and Palden Weinreb, at 5 p.m.

Much as the headwaters of Asia’s major rivers form in the Tibetan plateau and flow into the world’s seas, interest in Tibetan art and culture has circulated globally, WCMA says, inspiring artists within Tibetan regions and throughout the world.

Across Shared Waters: Contemporary Artists in Dialogue with Tibetan Art from the Jack Shear Collection presents works by contemporary artists of Himalayan heritage alongside traditional Tibetan Buddhist rolled paintings, or thangka, from the Jack Shear Collection, a juxtaposition that highlights the richness and diversity of Tibetan artistic expression and fosters greater understanding and appreciation of Himalayan histories and identities.

The exhibition opens on Friday, Feb. 17.

More info »

Abstract Sound #4 shows color in ground mineral pigment on a wooden panel. Pema Rinzin was born 1966 in Tibet and lives and works in New York. Press image courtesy of the artist and WCMA
Pema Rinzin

Abstract Sound #4 shows color in ground mineral pigment on a wooden panel. Pema Rinzin was born 1966 in Tibet and lives and works in New York. Press image courtesy of the artist and WCMA

Ariana Maki earned her Ph.D. in Buddhist and Himalayan art history, which is the core of her teaching and research. Ariana is particularly interested in the intersections of art, text, and lived practices. She is Associate Director of the University of Virginia’s Tibet Center and Bhutan Initiative, where her work includes digital humanities projects, cultural preservation initiatives, and working closely with Tibetan and Himalayan populations.

She has worked with the National Museum of Bhutan (2009–11) and has maintained an ongoing affiliation with Bhutan’s National Library and Archives since 2012. Ariana served as the U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Bhutan (2019-20).

Marie-Dolma Chophel‘s work features atmospheric depictions of landscapes and cosmic territories, exploring the tension between chaos and control, the expression of natural forces and the weight of their sensorial impact.

Chophel graduated with her MFA from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, France. Her work has been shown internationally and throughout the United States in museums, art centers and galleries. Chophel’s work is part of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Collection and she was an Honorary Member of the Rubin Museum (NYC) in 2019. Born and raised in France, Chophel has been living and working in Brooklyn, N.Y., for the past 10 years.

Palden Weinreb was born in 1982 in New York, where he currently lives and works. His multimedia sculptures and precisely rendered drawings follow his search for elusive transcendental phenomena surrounding modern life which approaches a conceptual or spiritual existence, including the afterlife. He draws on Buddhist motifs and ideas while working in repetitive approach guided by a minimal aesthetic.

Many of his artworks are an invitation from look where there is a seeming void—between lines, forms, light and darkness. His work has been exhibited at the Rubin Museum, Asia Society New York, Asia Society Texas Center, Queens Museum and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

About the show

Created between the 18th and 20th centuries, the thangkas give elaborate depictions of Buddhist narratives, deities, and practices. Talented, highly trained artists produced engaging scenes detailing the lives of the Buddha, chronicled incarnation lineages, and transmitted teaching stories.

Some works would be used by initiates to support advanced meditation techniques while others depict deities who aid Buddhist practitioners with everyday concerns, granting blessings of wealth, long life, protection, or healing.

The traditional thangka are displayed in conversation with contemporary works by featured artists based around the world, including Marie-Dolma Chophel, Dedron, Nyema Droma, Gonkar Gyatso, Tenzin Norbu Lama, Kesang Lamdark, Tashi Norbu, Karma Phuntsok, Pema Rinzin, Rabkar Wangchuk, and Palden Weinreb.

While some draw inspiration from Tibetan cultural markers, including repurposing or reimagining Buddhist imagery, others source inspiration completely outside those frames. Exploring themes of identity, consumerism, place, and cultural expectations, the artists employ a diverse range of media, from ground mineral pigments to acrylic paint, digital photography, mixed media works, and resin cast sculptures.

The traditional works in Across Shared Waters are part of a generous gift made by Jack Shear in March of 2022 to be shared among the art museums of Williams, Skidmore, and Vassar Colleges. The paintings and other objects comprising the gift will be used for education, research, and informed display. Across Shared Waters is the second in a series of exhibitions of the Jack Shear Collection of Tibetan Art organized by Ariana Maki, the Associate Director of the University of Virginia Tibet Center and Bhutan Initiative.

Organized by guest curator Ariana Maki, the Associate Director of the University of Virginia Tibet Center and Bhutan Initiative, with Elizabeth Gallerani, Curator of Mellon Academic Programs, and Nicholas Liou, Mellon Curatorial Fellow and MA ’24, along with research support from Curatorial Intern Priya Rajbhandary ’25. Tibetan translation provided by Rongwo Lugyal.

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Event Details

Details

Date:
February 24
Time:
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Categories:
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Event Location

WCMA
15 Lawrence Hall Drive
Williamstown, MA
413-597-2429

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