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Why do images have the power to inspire, give us access to the divine, show us the eternal, even guide the soul after death? Why are images so powerful that they are dangerous? This series of lectures explores the power of images in Asian art by looking at the intentions of the makers of the images and the specific roles the images were intended to play. Our journey crosses the breadth of Asia, from the abstract geometric designs in Islamic art to the sensuous figures of Khajuraho, from the Daoist paintings of the literati in China to the Thai amulets that ward off ghosts and disaster. We explore a variety of traditions to deepen our understanding of how images work.
Our Instructor of Record is Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker, Carver Professor Emerita of East Asian Studies, Mills College, and our lecturers are experts from across the U.S.
Speakers & Topics (Subject to change)
January 22, 2021
Rasa: The Essence of Indian Art Study Guide
The Enigma of the Sculptures at Khajuraho Revised Study Guide
Genealogy of the Chandella Dynasty
Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker, Carver Professor Emerita of East Asian Studies, Mills College
January 29, 2021
Traveling Between Worlds: The Afterlife of Art and Ritual in Indonesia Study Guide
Kaja Maria McGowan, Associate Professor, Cornell University
February 5, 2021
The Widening Gyre: Rippling Connotations of Shiva’s Cosmic Dance Study Guide
Forrest McGill, Wattis Senior Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
February 12, 2021
Navigating the Afterlife through the Tibetan Book of the Dead Study Guide
Jacob Dalton, Khyentse Foundation Distinguished University Professor in Tibetan Buddhism, University of California, Berkeley
February 19, 2021
The Visible and Invisible in the Art of Zanabazar Study Guide
Uranchimeg Tsultem, Assistant Professor and Edgar and Dorothy Fehnel Chair in International Studies, Herron School of Art + Design, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
February 26, 2021
Images of Afterlives and Afterworlds in the Islamic Garden Study Guide
Nerina Rustomji, Associate Professor and Chair, History Department, St. John’s University
March 5, 2021
Mathematics and the Divine in Islamic Art Study Guide
Carol Bier, Research Scholar, Center for Islamic Studies, Graduate Theological Union
March 12, 2021
Living Images and the Ephemeral in Medieval Northwestern India Study Guide
Deborah Stein, Adjunct Professor, California College of the Arts
March 19, 2021
Rajput Paintings: The Power of Seeing and Being Seen Study Guide
Laura Weinstein, Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
March 26, 2021
Beyond Life as We Know It: The Wondrous and the Monstrous in Japanese Notions of the Afterlife Study Guide
Mark Blum, Shinjo Ito Distinguished Chair in Japanese Studies and Head Graduate Advisor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California, Berkeley
April 9, 2021
On Corpses, Ghosts, and Amulets in the Funerary Culture of Thai Buddhism Study Guide
Justin McDaniel, Professor and Undergraduate Studies Chair, Department of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania
April 16, 2021
Seeing Large in Small: The Power of Scale in Chinese Landscape Painting Study Guide
Jun Hu, Assistant Professor of Chinese Art and Architecture, University of California, Berkeley
April 23, 2021
Colonial Representation in South Korean Cinema
Jinsoo An, Associate Professor, Korean Program, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. An recommends watching the Korean film, Assassination (2015), before the lecture. Here is a link to the movie on Amazon. Set in the colonial period, the film captures the way in which contemporary Koreans imagine and understand the colonial past. Though it is long (approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes), it is an accessible and entertaining film with a speedy pace of Hollywood blockbuster films.
Dr. An also recommends reading the article, The Nation Exorcised: The Historiography of Collaboration in South Korea by Koen De Ceuster. Here is a link to the article on JSTOR. If you register for an account on JSTOR, you can read 100 free articles per month. If you do not have time to read the entire article, please read the abstract on page one. If you have a San Francisco or other library card, you may be to access articles through the library.
April 30, 2021
Image and Reality in Contemporary Asian Art
Abby Chen, Head of Contemporary Art and Senior Associate Curator, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
The 14 lectures are 14 separate webinars. A Zoom confirmation email with information on how to join the webinar will be sent to all registered attendees 2 or 3 days before each lecture. Even though it is not required by Zoom, we recommend that you download and install Zoom on your computer or mobile device in advance, and set yourself up with a free account. Attendees will have a chance to participate in the Q&A with a text chat function. Read Arts of Asia Webinar FAQs.
* Photo Credits:
Left: The historical Buddha Shakyamuni, approx. 1700–1800. Mongolia. Bronze with gilding. Asian Art Museum, Gift of the Asian Art Museum General Acquisitions Fund and an anonymous friend of the Asian Art Museum, 1994.21.a-.c. Photograph © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
Right: Black Enso, 2014, by Masako Takahashi (American, b. 1944). Pigment inkjet print on paper. Asian Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2017.13. © Masako Takahashi. Photograph © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
The Society for Asian Art's cancellation policy requires at least one week's advance written notice in order to receive a refund of registration fees. This excludes our Travel programs, which have separate cancellation policies, as well as any programs where a specific refund policy is stated on the event page. Your fees will be returned to you through a check in the mail. To cancel, please contact us.
For programs located within the Asian Art Museum, the museum entrance fee must be paid separately and is not included with your registration fee.
Please note that by registering for a program, you are giving consent to the SAA to be photographed or videoed as a participant.