Works of art can be powerful vehicles for facilitating and celebrating change. Just as funerary arts are often associated with rebirth and renewal, most artistic genres are in a state of constant reformulation, reflecting ever-changing social circumstances and the dynamic nature of tradition. …arenas of contemporary artistic expression and practice are continuations of and departures from the past while making critical, deeply affecting, and sometimes satirical commentaries on the present.-- from the exhibition, "Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives," at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History
A website, a business, a body of art, a life… all are works in progress, never done and never static. As I look over the artwork I’ve produced in the last few years and reflect on the directions I’m taking, I see both a commitment to honoring tradition and a drive to create something new.
In 2005 and 2006, I began my experiment of rendering photographs of real people in textile. The characters who’ve appeared in my works so far live in the Buddhist world. They come from the same places where my traditional appliqué techniques were used to create sacred images — Tibet and Mongolia. The Three Mongolians and Pool of Light were completed in 2006, Nomad Girls in 2008. All three of these pieces incorporate contemporary textile techniques, like machine quilting and inkjet printing, with the traditional Tibetan methods of embroidery and appliqué.
In 2007, I participated in the creation of the documentary film, Creating Buddhas: the Making and Meaning of Fabric Thangkas. Isadora Leidenfrost’s eloquent film honors Tibetan traditions of both stitchery and spirituality, traditions whose preservation I am proud to contribute to. For the film, I created a traditional silk thangka of Green Tara.
Simultaneously, off camera, I was moving in another new direction, setting a traditional sacred image in a contemporary quilted ground. Chenrezig was the result of this experiment. And Samantabhadra will be next. These are contemporary Buddhist artworks, built upon the foundation of Tibetan traditions of drawing and stitching.
In the meantime, I’ve begun teaching the traditional methods of Tibetan appliqué through digital lessons.
My work is not merely inspired by Tibetan tradition. Instead, the tradition is directly perpetuated in the faithful proportions of sacred figures and in every stitch over a horsehair cord. Yet evolution has occurred, and is continuing. My work is both traditional and innovative. How can I best express that on my website and in other communications?
Some of you have already been in conversation with me on Facebook, and the choices below reflect your suggestions. I’ve enjoyed our lively exchange and am eager to continue it here, with a few more participants. Take a look at the poll below and help me make the choice. You can vote for up to two options. One of your choices might be your own suggestion, something no one has yet thought of. If you choose “suggest your own,” select that box and then write your suggestion in the comment box below. (Click on the word “comments” under the suggested links below, if you don’t see a box.)
I can’t wait to read your ideas! I’ll come back to you with results, and perhaps a run-off, next month.
A lot of you read regularly and never comment. Here’s a way you can participate discreetly
I truly appreciate your input!