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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 Theory of Aesthetics in Indian Iconology and Rasa and the Enigma of the Sculptures at Khajuraho
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
Kaja Maria McGowan, Associate Professor, Cornell University
February 5, 2021
The Widening Gyre: Rippling Connotations of Shiva’s Cosmic Dance
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
Jacob Dalton, Khyentse Professor and Chair, Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
February 19, 2021
The Visible and Invisible in the Art of Zanabazar
Uranchimeg Tsultem, Assistant Professor, Edgar and Dorothy Fehnel Chair in International Studies, Herron School of Art + Design, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis
February 26, 2021
Images of Afterlifes and Afterworlds in the Islamic Garden
Nerina Rustomji, Associate Professor of History, St. John’s University
March 5, 2021
Mathematics and the Divine in Islamic Art
Carol Bier, Independent Scholar
March 12, 2021
Pure Land, Hell, or Extinction? Buddhist Visions of the Hereafter on the Silk Road
Michelle McCoy, Assistant Professor, University of Pittsburgh
March 19, 2021
Rajput Paintings: The Power of Seeing and Being Seen
Laura Weinstein, Curator, Boston Museum of Fine Arts and The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University
March 26, 2021
Beyond Life as We Know It: The Wondrous and the Monstrous in Japanese Notions of the Afterlife
Mark Blum, Professor and Shinjo Ito Distinguished Chair in Japanese Studies, University of California, Berkeley
April 9, 2021
On Corpses, Ghosts, and Amulets in the Funerary Culture of Thai Buddhism
Justin McDaniel, Professor of Religious Studies, Undergraduate Religious Studies Chair, University of Pennsylvania
April 16, 2021
Seeing Large in Small: The Power of Scale in Chinese Landscape Painting
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 of Korean Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California, Berkeley
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 your registration for this event is consent to be photographed or videoed as a participant for SAA publicity purposes.