The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama

The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama

912 412 Art Works for Change

The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama

How does an artist consider the Dalai Lama?

That question began a journey that has resulted in this exhibition, in which 79 artists and artist collaborations from around the world have created their own individual answers, tapping into their unique journeys and belief systems to create visual portraits of how they perceive the Dalai Lama. The result is a collective tapestry of images, themes, and media that mirror the many roles the Dalai Lama plays within his world and ours: statesman, philosopher, politician, holy man, visionary, peacemaker, icon, and more.

Artists selected were those whose works resonated with the great themes and ideals the Dalai Lama embodies: the power of spirituality, the mystery of transcendence, universal interconnectedness, the importance of human dignity, and the need for peace.

These themes became the organizing principle of the show. The exhibition begins with the more concrete concepts about the Dalai Lama: his appearance, beliefs, religion, and homeland. The show then circles outward to include increasingly more abstract and universal themes: the ideals of human rights, peace, compassion, people in exile, an exploration of belief systems, paths of transformation, universal responsibility, globalization, and ideas of temporality and impermanence.

The intent of the show is simultaneously educational, inspirational, and transformative; its goal is to both engage and heal. One of the central roles of art and the artist is to encourage us to think about the forces that shape our lives. The transformative power of art invites us to reflect on our beliefs about those forces, and to make the shifts in our perceptions necessary to expand them. That is also the purpose of each of the works in this exhibition.

Early on in this project, Tenzin Tethong, former cabinet member to the Tibetan Government in Exile, stated that the goal of the exhibition is not one of hero worship or political rhetoric. It is not about the fight for Tibetan freedom. And it is not how we can become the Dalai Lama, or walk in his footsteps.

Rather, the exhibition shows how we can walk alongside the Dalai Lama – each of us with our own story — and how our stories can interweave with his story, all the stories together becoming a new story of human consciousness.


UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Los Angeles, 2006
Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, 2006
Rubin Museum of Art, New York, 2007
Emory University Visual Arts Gallery, Atlanta, 2007
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, 2007
Tomorrowland, Tokyo, Japan, 2008
Fundacion Canal, Madrid, Spain, 2009
The Frost Museum, Florida International University, 2009-2010
Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania, 2010
Nobel Museum, Stockholm, Sweden, 2010-2011
San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas, 2011

Participating Artists

Marina Abramovic, Seyed Alavi, Jane Alexander, El Anatsui, Laurie Anderson, Ken Aptekar, Richard Avedon, Kirsten Bahrs Janssen, Chase Bailey, Tayseer Baraket, Sanford Biggers, Phil Borges, Dove Bradshaw, Guy Buffet, Dario Campanile, Andy Cao, Squeak Carnwath, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Chuck Close, Constantino Ciervo, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Long-Bin Chen, Bernard Cosey, Santiago Cucullu, Binh Danh, Lewis de Soto, Filippo di Sambuy, Era and Don Farnsworth, Peig Fairbrook and Adele Fox, Spencer Finch, Sylvie Fleury, Louis Fox, Adam Fuss, Juan Galdeano, Rupert Garcia, Robin Garthwait and Dan Griffin, Richard Gere, Losang Gyatso, H. M. Harrison & Newton Harrison, Jim Hodges, David and Hi-Jin Hodge, Jenny Holzer, Tri Huu Luu, Ichi Ikeda, Yoko Inoue, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Jesal Kapadia, Anish Kapoor, Kimsooja, Nefeli Massia, Yumyo Miyasaka, Gabriela Morawetz, Kisho Mukaiyama, Tom Nakashima, Dang Ngo, Michele Oka Doner, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, Susan Plum, Rosemary Rawcliffe, Michal Rovner, Tenzin Rigdol, Salustiano, Sebasti‹o Salgado, Andra Samelson, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Arlene Shechet, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Mike and Doug Starn, Pat Steir, Hoang Van Bui, Adriana Varej‹o, Bill Viola, Inkie Whang, William Wiley, Katarina Wong, Yuriko Yamaguchi, and Negishi Yoshiro.