Development of a Thangka Artist – Donna Granata interviews Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo for Focus on the Masters

What a team Donna Granata has gathered at Focus on the Masters!

Such meticulous attention to quality on every level. And what a joy to speak with Donna about my work and life. I’ve long been a supporter of FOTM but now, having gone through the documentation process myself, my support and admiration have increased exponentially.


It was a magical evening. The room was filled to capacity — and filled with love. Held by all that love, I wasn’t even nervous as Donna and I began our conversation!



Top-notch sound engineering, lighting, and cinematography. It’s a TV-interview setup with four cameras — one on Donna, one on me, one on the stage with both of us and the artwork… I’m not really sure where the fourth camera pointed!



There was also a slide show on the big screen, showing images to support our conversation. These images were culled from the hundreds (thousands?) that are now in FOTM’s archive.

It was hard to edit and we had to leave out several stories that would have been fun to tell. But who can recount all the pivotal moments of their life in one hour? We stuck to what was most relevant to the art and of most interest to the audience. Whole decades and countries (sorry, Italy) didn’t make the cut!


My mom is an artist, who sculpted me into existence (pictured below sculpting a bust of mother and child while pregnant with me)…


I grew up in a mixed-religion family, exposed to various world views from a young age and resonating with Eastern spirituality from the moment I met it.


Grateful to have inherited an abiding joy that, though sometimes hidden, always returns.


People appreciated my sharing about my struggle with compulsive hair pulling, skin picking, and nail biting. Everyone has something!

And I’ve seen how the meticulous perfectionism inherent in mine (misdirected though it may be) is the same energy that makes it possible for me to wrap horsehair and stitch silk. This seems to have touched many people deeply and inspired conversations around dinner tables after the interview.


Of course, there was lots of talk of India — my apprenticeship, meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and the everyday experience of living there.




Briefly traveling through history and touching on examples of silk thangkas in Tibet and at the Norton Simon Museum, we reached my nearer past and present — with its exhibitions, Stitching Buddhas teaching program, and Threads of Awakening Weekly Wake-Ups.

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Linda Carson and Michael Rohde generously sponsored my documentation.

And Paula Spellman hosted a celebratory AfterGLOW, with yummy India food.


Thank you to everyone who helped, supported, and attended the Spotlight interview!

The short video below gives you a feel for the work of Focus on the Masters. I’m so grateful to be part of the Focus family, touched by the work they do to recognize artists and bring their gifts to a broader community.


I look forward to the day when I’ll be able to share the video of my own FOTM Spotlight interview with you. Give at Indiegogo to help us get there!


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  1. Donna Granata04-01-15

    Thank you Leslie for all of your kind words in support of FOTM. You are a beautiful, generous spirit and a great addition to the FOTM family!!!!

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