Continuations (8 Arhats), 2020
Each mixed media on panel piece is 72" x 48"
These sculptural-painting reliefs speak to secular, religious, cultural and architectural spaces. Unlike the paths of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas who attain a kind of perfection in Buddhism, Arhats too are on the spiritual path, have reached certain levels of attainment, but are considered to be flawed and can regress. Historically in parts of South East Asia, some folk heroes have ascended to Arhatship as a way to get lay people interested in Buddhism. The figure of the Arhat in Buddhist iconography did not adhere to rigid modes of representation such as the Buddhas did. Through depictions of Arhats, artists had the liberty to distort and experiment with sacred figuration. I’m fascinated in the transmission of Buddhism and spirituality within Asia and around the world, how its iconographies moved through commerce, as well as its co-option through colonization. I wanted to make Arhats that were materially ‘base,’ to be sites for the convergence of historic and contemporary iconographies, and I tried to make the expressions on some of their faces human.