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.