New exhibition introduces Padmasambhava, a legendary figure known for bringing Buddhism to Tibet and who could see through all of time
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (December 19, 2018) — The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College presents a special exhibition devoted to the life, legend, and legacy of Padmasambhava, a tantric master who is an iconic figure in Tibetan culture celebrated as “The Second Buddha.” Padmasambhava is known for bringing Buddhism to Tibet and is believed to have concealed lessons for future discovery called “treasure teachings.”
Opening February 9, The Second Buddha: Master of Time explores the visual and material world centered on Padmasambhava through sculpture, Tibetan scroll paintings (thangkas), textiles, and manuscripts from the thirteenth to the twentieth century. The ancient legends of Padmasambhava have transcended vastly different periods and cultures, carrying as they do universal messages about the power of human emotions, human achievement and triumph over adversity, self-transformation, impermanence, and the nonlinear nature of time. Legend holds that Padmasambhava was an enlightened being, capable of seeing through time to predict troubled times in the future. In order to aid future generations, he hid his teachings, known as hidden treasure teachings (terma), throughout the Tibetan lands for his disciples to discover. The exhibition will be on view through May 19, 2019.
“This exhibition allows new audiences to delve into stories from Tibetan Buddhism’s multiple pasts, which continue to be told—and retold—today and continue to impact generations of people,” said Rachel Seligman, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and Malloy Curator at the Tang Teaching Museum. “We are especially fortunate to have on faculty at Skidmore College a scholar of Padmasamhava. Benjamin Bogin, Director of the Asian Studies Program, has been an advisor on the exhibition and instrumental in organizing a series of programs at the Tang Museum that will deepen and expand our understanding of Buddhism and The Second Buddha.”
The programs include tours and talks with numerous visiting artists and scholars, including Pema Namdol Thaye, a renowned Tibetan painter; Janet Gyatso, Harvard Professor of Buddhist Studies; and Laurie Anderson, a performance artist and practicing Buddhist.
Saturday, February 9 at 4:00 PM: The Second Buddha: Master of Time Curators' Tour & Spring Opening Reception — Rachel Seligman, Tang Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and Malloy Curator, Elena Pakhoutova, Rubin Museum Curator of Himalayan Art, and Benjamin Bogin, Skidmore Professor of Asian Studies, lead a tour of The Second Buddha: Master of Time, followed by an opening reception for all of the Tang’s exhibitions
Tuesday, February 12, Noon: Curators’ Tour of The Second Buddha: Master of Time — With Tang Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and Malloy Curator Rachel Seligman and Skidmore Professor of Asian Studies Ben Bogin
Tuesday, February 19 at 6:00 PM: An Artist’s View of the Second Buddha — Pema Namdol Thaye, a renowned Tibetan painter, discusses his perspective on Padmasambhava
Thursday, February 21 at 6:00 PM: “Bringing the Past to Life: Visions, Writing, and Me” — Janet Gyatso, Harvard Professor of Buddhist Studies, reflects on reading and translating the visionary autobiography the 18th-century Tibetan Buddhist master, Jigme Lingpa
Wednesday, March 20 at 6:00 PM: Seeing Without Looking: a Psychoanalytic View of the Great Perfection Contemplation in Tibet — Jacob Dalton, Khyentse Chair of Tibetan Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley, explores connections between psychoanalytic theory and Tibetan Buddhist meditation
Tuesday, March 26 at 6:00 PM: Art about Art — Rob Linrothe, Northwestern University Professor of Art History, offers art historical observations on representations of art in The Second Buddha
Monday, April 1 at 6:00 PM: Dream Images, Poetic Visions — Dominique Townsend, poet and Professor of Religious Studies at Bard College, gives a reading and discussion of Terdak Lingpa’s poetic dream yoga instructions
Thursday, April 4 at 6:00 PM: Lama Rod Owens on “Radical Presence and Social Justice” — Connecting the Second Buddha’s teachings with contemporary concerns
Tuesday-Thursday, April 16-18, 6:00 PM each night: Bardo Now — This three-day series explores the Tibetan Buddhist concept of the bardo, most often understood as the intermediate space between death and rebirth (as described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, attributed to Padmasambhava), in contemporary literature, art, and music. Highlights include a discussion of George Saunders’s novel Lincoln in the Bardo (April 16), a Dunkerley Dialogue with artist Laurie Anderson and Skidmore Professor of Asian Studies Ben Bogin (Wednesday, April 17), and a performance by guitarist Tashi Dorji and percussionist Susie Ibarra, who will perform an experimental duet conceived for this event as a musical bardo exploration (Thursday, April 18)
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated publication co-produced by the Tang Teaching Museum and the Rubin Museum, featuring essays by Benjamin Bogin of Skidmore College; Lewis Doney, Research Associate at the Centre of Buddhist Studies at the SOAS University of London; Daniel A. Hirshberg, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Mary Washington; and Elena Pakhoutova, Curator Himalayan Art at The Rubin Museum of Art.
The Second Buddha: Master of Time is presented by the Rubin Museum of Art, New York, and The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. The exhibition is curated by Elena Pakhoutova, Curator Himalayan Art at The Rubin Museum of Art, and organized for the Tang Teaching Museum by Rachel Seligman, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs and Malloy Curator. The Second Buddha: Master of Time was on view at the Rubin Museum from February 2, 2018, through January 7, 2019.
Support for the exhibition is made possible in part by Bob and Lois Baylis, Barbara Bowman, Lisina M. Hoch, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Friends of the Tang, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation, and contributors to the Rubin Museum 2017 and 2018 Exhibitions Fund. Exhibition programming at the Tang Teaching Museum is supported by Skidmore College’s Center for Leadership in Teaching and Learning and the Office of Special Programs.
The Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College is a pioneer of interdisciplinary exploration and learning. A cultural anchor of New York's Capital Region, the institution's approach has become a model for university art museums across the country—with exhibition programs and series that bring together the visual and performing arts with fields of study as disparate as history, astronomy, and physics. The Tang has one of the most rigorous faculty-engagement initiatives in the nation, the Mellon Seminar, and robust publication and touring exhibition initiatives that extend the institution's reach far beyond its walls. The Tang Teaching Museum's building, designed by architect Antoine Predock, serves as a visual metaphor for the convergence of ideas and exchange the institution catalyzes. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, from noon to 5 pm, with extended hours until 9 pm Thursday. More information at http://tang.skidmore.edu.