Art Through Time: A Global View
Cosmology and Belief
Anne D’Alleva: Where do we come from? What are we? And where are we going?
Fred Myers: One of the fundamental problems that culture faces is the articulation of the place of the human self in the world, in the broader world, in a cosmos.
We are beings who live through a symbolic order. Therefore, we’re faced with the possibility of somehow formulating in terms graspable, intelligible, experience-able, our place in that world. And culture, while it does many things including organizing us to make our way from here to the gas station, provides us general models for understanding our relationship to the ultimate conditions of existence.
Segment Title: Mapping the Universe
Peter Roe: Amazonian cultures look at their whole world, their whole cosmos, as a series of floating platters. The body art that people wear, the body paint, their feather work, their beadwork, incorporates all the levels of their universe. For example, if you look at a man’s body, the upper canopy is the top of a man’s head and his shoulders. So he is going to pick the most powerful birds, like a giant harpy eagle, and pluck the feathers from it for his headdress.
Around his waist he’ll wear objects emulative of earth world, like the skin of a jaguar. And then on his lower feet and legs he will wear adornments from the giant caiman, or the anaconda, the underworld reptilian being. So every level of his body corresponds exactly to every level of the triple-tier tropical rain forest and the cosmos in which he dwells. He is the cosmological body; that is, his body is, as it were, a map of the universe.
So, not only is his body a walking map, he lives in a map. It goes from an individual artifact, to the assemblage of artifacts, to the body with this assemblage of artifacts, to the hut in which the body and its assemblage of artifacts are placed. To the village in which the hut is place. To the landscape in which the hut and all the villages are placed. You look at it from God’s eye and it’s an infinite series of concentric circles that goes out from the axis mundi, from the center. It’s like those medieval maps of the universe, you know, that have the earth in the center and then all of those celestial spheres that go out infinitum. It’s like that in the jungle.
Mary Miller: All belief, all religious belief, has things we can see and we can’t see. And in believing in things we can’t see, we often like to have a kind of image of how it works.
Rosemary Joyce: One of the things that has been thought of as being very distinctive about the Classic Maya is that their architecture and their site planning is seen as being a very self-conscious attempt to represent aspects of their cosmology, of their belief system, of the way they think the world is structured.
Mary Miller: The building we call the Castillo lies in the center of a vast elevated plaza. The Castillo is a man-made mountain. And mountains are places where you gain access to the heavens. So one of the things that they fix on with Chichen is the way that the movements of the heavens can be made transparent and visible.
It is a quite remarkable building in that on the days of the equinox—fall and spring—the light strikes this building and you see on the north side that the nine levels of the pyramid shift into what seem to be seven segments of a serpent. And it seems to travel off and head off to this natural sinkhole we call the Sacred Cenote.
For the Maya, the cenote is a kind of point of entry into the earth, this portal, if you will, into an underworld. The Castillo is mapping out a cosmology of heaven’s activities on the surface of the earth and an opening to the underworld all at once, taking us through this kind of order that humans have put in order to explain the complexity of their world.
Segment Title: Imagining the Beginning
Vitaly Komar: This is the nature of humankind, this curiosity. We like to understand the something unexplainable, some mystery. We like to find the answer of the mystery. And always since my childhood I was going to understand how did this world start?
Anne D’Alleva: In Polynesian cultures there’s a wonderful creation story. It is a very important religious story that you see portrayed again and again in various places.
There is the earth mother Papa and the sky father Rangi, and they are tightly locked in an embrace. And, in fact, their children are suffocating; they are caught between their parents.
Finally Tane, who ultimately becomes a very important god, says he is going to separate his parents. So he gathers up his strength and he pushes. And he pushes and pushes and pushes. And he finally pries them apart and he pushes Rangi, the sky father, up into the sky and Papa is the earth mother. And the two of them are very upset that this has happened. And Rangi cries tears which become, of course, the rain. But it was necessary to separate the parents and to free the children. And the children then go on to become the gods and ultimately the ancestors of human beings.
So Maori canoe prows is one place that you see this portrayed. And you can understand that because when warriors go forth, this reminder of where they came from, their primordial origins, is very important.
Segment Title: Picturing the Divine
Babatunde Lawal: If you remember Genesis, God said, “Let us create man in our own image.” But the idea of creation is double-sided. We created the idea of a deity as a kind of self-reflection.
Vishaka Desai: When we think about gods and goddesses in the Western tradition, we go back to the classical Greek tradition. And often we say that these gods are idealized humans.
So we elevate humans to become ideals. Indian gods and goddesses really come out from the other end. It is the concept of god that then is represented in human form. If the god has four functions and you want to show that, the best thing to do is to give extra arms, and you put some symbols, and then you’re done. So people always say, “But, but human beings don’t have that,” and I always remind everybody that they are not really human beings. They are put in a human form for our understanding, and that is the difference.
Ilan Stavans: It is a very interesting question to ponder—why do we represent the divine in our art?
Andrew Stewart: In the case of an anthropomorphic religion, it obviously reifies the forms of the divinity you’re worshipping. The crucifix on the altar immediately brings Christ’s Passion to life. So, if you look at that crucifix or you look at that crucifix or you look at Grünewald’s Isenheim altar and the emaciated body of Christ, the suffering of God for our sins becomes as it were viscerally apparent to you.
Larry Silver: The number of wounds, the visible greenish tint, as well as blood-hued tint of all the surfaces of skin, the distortion that comes to the feet and the hands of this tormented figure on the cross can only elicit our deepest human compassion and pity.
The Christian religion teaches that Christ offered up his body and his premature death for the salvation of all who would believe in him, so the image of Christ’s own suffering becomes a source of comfort and hope. Any viewer who had started with the everyday figure of that emaciated and tormented body of Christ, can only feel a kind of visual and spiritual uplift as you see the resurrection of Christ, who dissolves into golden light on the inside of the Isenheim altarpiece.
Art seems to be the medium that people use to elicit faith, to create a kind of personal relationship to whatever institutional religion they are a part of.
Segment Title: Worshipping with Images
Larry Silver: The icon is a fabulous example of the way that visual imagery can be an instrumental part of faith, especially if you go into an Orthodox church and see people literally kissing a picture.
Jane Ashton Sharp: An icon is an image that is worshipped in the Orthodox faith that bears a visual resemblance to the person referred to in the image. So there is a relationship of similarity. But there is also a trace of divine. The presence of the divine in an icon depends on this direct succession of images that goes back to the original image, which in turn refers to the archetype, the person, the divine presence.
It is hard to say where the first image arises. There are several stories and one is the Veronica’s veil, which is the image of Christ not painted by human hands, where he physically, according to legend, left an impression of his face on a cloth. So those are images, prototypes that are repeated.
It’s not just repetition, it is tracing. An icon is created through a mechanical tracing and that tradition of tracing is of critical significance to the notion that it is connected to the divine in a material way. Icons are worshipped as a vehicle through which the divine communicates.
Larry Silver: The idea is that the image is meant to be a source of connection to you, as well as a means of transmission of your prayers to something beyond the image.
Bob Thurman: Buddhists have gods who are potent, but not omnipotent, and Buddhas are more potent than gods, but also still not omnipotent.
Yui Suzuki: The Buddha, or the awakened person, has thirty-two physical markings on his body that distinguishes him from regular human beings who are not awakened.
Bob Thurman: The Buddha is meant to look a little different, but close enough to the human form that the human thinks they are kind of human, so that they are encouraging to the human. Because they don’t want to look like something totally different like an alien—then the human would think, I can’t do what he did, I can’t understand like that, I can’t become a transcendent being like that.
Yui Suzuki: In the context of Buddhism, an icon can be a representation of the deity. But in other ways it is actually not just a representation, but the embodiment of the deity itself, especially in times of ritual when these icons become activated. They are embodiments of the sacred.
The Buddha is no longer just an object of worship, but the Buddha is there looking back at the worshipper. This is a dual communication, it’s a two-way process.
Jane Ashton Sharp: Human beings do believe that they are gaining greater access to the divine by imaging. Not just speaking, not just incantation, but there is something about actually creating physically images that bring you closer.
Babatunde Lawal: The Yoruba in southwestern Nigeria and neighboring countries traces the origin of the universe to a supreme being called Olódùmarè.
Now in Yoruba culture, Olódùmarè is venerated through a host of deities called òrìsà, unlike some cultures where the supreme being is venerated directly. Most of the òrìsà are personified and represented in art as sculptures, human sculptures.
Other òrìsàs are represented through certain sacred symbols which may be concealed in containers. Frequently these containers have faces on them. So there’s an emphasis on the use of sculpture to facilitate a kind of face-to-face communication with the spiritual.
Art serves as a kind of body for the òrìsà, as well as a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical.
Larry Silver: The whole idea of worship with images is a complicated history. And it has caused fear and destruction of images when some people thought images were taken too far, were literally being worshiped for themselves by the faithful.
Kishwar Rizvi: For believers, for example, of very, very orthodox Islam, and the polemicists have been writing about this since the tenth century, that if you start to worship anything other than this abstract idea of God, if you monumentalize it, if you make it material, if you make it physical, it is considered a heresy.
Nonetheless, human nature is such that people do need to have some physical aspect that materializes their devotion, that gives them something more than the abstraction.
Larry Silver: Art is a way to tell stories, to inspire devotion, and also to provide environments for faith. After all, there are all those structures, too, that need decoration.
Segment Title: Adorning Sacred Spaces
Jane Ashton Sharp: There is something beguiling about visual spectacle. You have only to go really to an Eastern church. It is one of the most stunning experiences—the interior spaces, the colors, the saturation of colors of icons, the fact that mosaics are glass and they reflect light, all of this has a tremendous visual impact on us. It is a sensory experience.
Kishwar Rizvi: In Islam we do have the most beautiful carpets, for example, that have been created to pray on. You have the prayer beads that help you count the different versus of the Qur’an that you might be reading at that moment.
What these works of art, these objects of art do is enhance your spiritual experience. They allow you to access that spiritual moment in your life and in your devotion that is much richer because of the beauty that is created around you. They allow you to create a space that is sacred, although you don’t need any particular space per se.
In Islam, the idea is that any individual has access to the religion on their own terms. And so even in the most sacred place, the mosque, there is just one requirement, which is that it should give you the direction to the Ka’ba in Mecca.
If there was a mosque that I think really defines the religion, it would be the Great Mosque in Spain. If you look at it, what you see are these pillars, and there are pillars and pillars and pillars that seem to go on to infinity. There is no hierarchy in them. They stand there as individual devotees, as each person who could stand there as equals. And that mosque has always represented to me the essential aspect of Islam that is about a community of people praying together.
Jane Ashton Sharp: Human beings are very concerned with representing their beliefs to others in their community. So in as much as faith is a communal experience, it is a way of representing your sense of belonging to your community. It is simply a very profound need, human need, to communicate through visual objects.
Segment Title: Seeing the Spiritual
Vitaly Komar: So many wars, bloody wars, are around because different beliefs, different faiths don’t understand each other, because verbal language is not enough to found communication.
I am artist. I am not expert in Kabbalah or in theology or in science. But what I really believe that art can create image which has no equivalent in language.
My latest project was Three-Day Weekend, symbols of the three-day weekend. This project united political and social utopias and ideas with spiritual ideas. For example, Friday is the holy day of Islam, Saturday is a day of Judaism, and Sunday is for Christianity.
I tried to create the peaceful co-existence of different visual symbols.
Sometimes in different images I combine menorah, and image of the moon, symbol of Islam, and cross and, of course, there are many different kind of cross.
Square is the symbol of the earth, circle the symbol of the heaven, and triangle the ancient symbol of spirituality. How in our mind came these figures—square, triangle, circle—it’s a mystery, it’s a kind of spiritual knowledge before we were born.
The God has many names, but we’re speaking about the same thing. And spirituality has also many different names. For example, in my childhood, Russia was officially an atheistic country. They say it’s the law of nature. But why the forces of nature obey the law of nature? The mystery stays still the mystery.
I never believed that I can save somebody. But I think it can, it can make some people meditate, to create a hermit for five minutes. People will start to think maybe about how to understand this mystery.
Thomas Crow: You don’t really achieve a connection with people just by flattering them or pandering to them. You have to touch their anxieties, their fears, their deeper kind of apprehension of one’s place in the universe if your art is going to have any real effectiveness or longevity.
I’ve been to the Rothko Chapel a number of times and each time I go I’ve been more drawn into it.
Now, when you look at the Rothko Chapel you find yourself in a world composed entirely of Rothkos. And I think it’s that sense of painting having its own realm, undisturbed, where you can settle and look at the appropriate sort of pace and degree of attention that Rothko wanted. You can call it metaphysical or religious or spiritual feeling, but I think that really has to be defined in its own terms.
He was attentive to what religion is used for in the culture and in one’s individual psychological makeup, but he wanted to reinvent that and not merely endorse, or underline some preexisting kind of belief. He wanted the painting to command its own form of belief on its own terms.
Vitaly Komar: Many artists, early avant-garde artists, they share the dream to destroy old tradition and to build a new world. It was an iconoclastic intention. But if you destroy one icon, sooner or later you create a new icon. You are back to this spirituality.
Anne D’Alleva: I think as human beings we often have a yearning to be in touch with the spiritual, to be in touch with something beyond who we are and what we are and beyond the specifics of our daily existence, a larger sense of ourselves in the world. And the spiritual is that. And art enables us to do that because of its transformative effects and its transporting effects. Because when you sing and you dance and you look at a spectacular work of art, you wear a spectacular work of art that changes you. And that enables you to be outside your ordinary self and to connect with something that’s larger than that ordinary self.
In all cultures, people strive to understand their reason for being and their place in the universe. Art can be an instrument for not only recording spiritual beliefs, but also for creating myths, defining the realms of mortal and immortal, communing with ancestors, channeling forces of good, and repelling those of evil.
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Jane Ashton Sharp, Ph.D., is an associate professor of art history at Rutgers University. In addition to teaching classes on Russian and Soviet art, unofficial art in the former Soviet Union, and twentieth-century avant-garde art movements, she curates the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Soviet Nonconformist Art at Rutgers’ Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum. Sharp has published numerous articles and book chapters on the historical Russian avant-garde, and, more recently, on Moscow conceptualism and abstract painting in the Soviet Union after the Second World War. Her book Russian Modernism between East and West: Natal’ia Goncharova and the Moscow Avant-Garde, 1905–14 won the Robert Motherwell Book Award from the Dedalus Foundation. Sharp holds an M.A. in Slavic languages and literatures and a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University.
Thomas Crow, Ph.D., is the Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. Prior to joining the Institute of Fine Arts, Crow was the director of the Getty Research Institute. He has also taught art history at the University of Southern California, Yale University, the University of Sussex, the University of Michigan, Princeton University, and the University of Chicago. Crow has received numerous honors for his work, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and the Charles Rufus Morey Prize of the College Art Association. Some of his published works include Emulation: Making Artists for Revolutionary France, The Rise of the Sixties: American and European Art in the Era of Dissent, and Modern Art in the Common Culture. Crow received his B.A. from Pomona College and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Anne D’Alleva, Ph.D., is an associate professor of art history and women’s studies at the University of Connecticut. D’Alleva is the author of Art of the Pacific Islands, Sacred Maidens and Masculine Women: Art, Gender, and Power in Post-Contact Tahiti. She has also written several books on the discipline of art history. These include Look! The Fundamentals of Art History, Look Again! Art History and Critical Theory, How to Write Art History, and Methods and Theories of Art History. D’Alleva’s work has earned her grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Getty Foundation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. She received her B.A. from Harvard University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.
Vishakha N. Desai, Ph.D., is the president and CEO of the Asia Society, a global non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening partnerships and deepening understanding among Asians and Americans. She received her B.A. from Bombay University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. Under her leadership, the Asia Society has expanded its offices to India and Korea, developed new environmental, gender, and leadership initiatives, and opened a new center on U.S.-China relations. Desai has delivered many lectures and published and edited several books, journals, and articles related to Asian art. She serves on a number of arts boards and committees and has received honors for her work, including a Gold Medal from the National Institute of Social Sciences. Prior to her presidency of the Asia Society, she served as the Society’s senior vice president, vice president for Arts and Cultural Programs, and as the director of the Museum. She also held positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and taught at several universities.
Cynthia Hahn, Ph.D., is a professor of art history, specializing in medieval art, at Hunter College and the Graduate Center in New York. Hahn has written several books including Portrayed on the Heart: Narrative Effect in Pictorial Lives of the Saints from the Tenth through the Thirteenth Century and a forthcoming book on reliquaries, entitled Strange Beauty. Her articles, which have been featured in journals such as Art History, Art Bulletin, Gesta, and Speculum, relate to European and Byzantine art from the Early Christian through Gothic periods. In addition to her position at Hunter College, Hahn has taught at a number of universities, including the University of Chicago, the University of Delaware, the University of Michigan, and Florida State University. She has also served as a board member for several organizations, including the National Gallery of Art’s Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA). Hahn has an M.A. from the University of Chicago and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.
Rosemary Joyce, Ph.D., is an archaeologist and professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, where she teaches courses on the archaeology of the Maya and Central America, archaeological method and theory, and museum studies, among other topics. She has also conducted field research and curated exhibitions in both North America and Honduras. Joyce joined the Berkeley faculty as director of the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology, after serving as director and curator at the Peabody Museum of Harvard University where she was on the faculty in Anthropology. Joyce has published a number of works, including Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives: Sex, Gender, and Archaeology and Mesoamerican Archaeology: Theory and Practice, Gender and Power in Prehispanic Mesoamerica. She earned her A.B. from Cornell University and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Vitaly Komar, a Russian-born artist, is one of the founders of the Sots Art movement (Soviet Pop/Conceptual art) and a pioneer of multi-stylistic post-modernism. From 1973 to 2003, Komar worked in collaboration with Alex Melamid. They held numerous exhibitions worldwide and became the first Russian artists to be honored with a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities. Komar and Melamid collaborated with the conceptual video artist Douglas Davis on the exhibition “Questions New York/Moscow” (in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), with Fluxus musician Charlotte Moorman on Passport for the Ronald Feldman Gallery, and with Andy Warhol on the project We Buy and Sell Souls. In their last major project together, Symbols of the Big Bang, Komar and Melamid began exploring notions of spirituality. Komar continued this pursuit in his independent series Three-Day Weekend, which united symbols of different faiths and concepts of spirituality with historical and autobiographical references. Currently, he is working on New Symbolist paintings for an exhibit at the Ronald Feldman Gallery. Komar studied at the Moscow Art School and graduated from the Stroganov Institute of Art & Design in Moscow.
Babatunde Lawal, Ph.D., is a professor of art history at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, where he specializes in African, African American, and African Diaspora art. Lawal has conducted field work in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Republic of Benin, Brazil, and the U.S. In addition to his position at VCU, Lawal has taught at several other universities in the U.S., Africa, and Brazil. His publications include The Gelede Spectacle: Art, Gender, and Social Harmony in African Culture, Embodying the Sacred in Yoruba Art, and several articles in leading art journals. Lawal holds a Ph.D. in art history from Indiana University.
Mary Miller, Ph.D., is dean of Yale College and Sterling Professor of History of Art at Yale University. A specialist in art of the ancient New World, she has authored and co-authored The Art of Mesoamerica: From Olmec to Aztec, Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya, and The Blood of Kings: Ritual and Dynasty in Maya Art, among other books. In addition to these publications, Miller curated an acclaimed exhibition for the National Gallery of Art entitled “The Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya.” Her projects related to the Maya have earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship, and she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She received her A.B. from Princeton University and her Ph.D. from Yale University.
Fred Myers, Ph.D., is the Silver Professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department at New York University. Myers’ research focuses on Aboriginal people in Australia, specifically Western Desert people. His many published works include Painting Culture: The Making of an Aboriginal High Art and The Traffic in Culture: Refiguring Art and Anthropology. Myers has received numerous honors, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He was elected president of the American Ethnological Society and has spearheaded NYU’s Morse Academic Plan, a general education program for the College of Arts and Sciences. Myers earned his B.A. from Amherst College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr.
Kishwar Rizvi, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Islamic Art at Yale University. She has written on representations of religious and imperial authority in the art and architecture of Safavid Iran, as well as on issues of gender, nationalism, and religious identity in modern Iran and Pakistan. Her current research, for which she has been selected as a Carnegie Foundation Scholar, focuses on ideology and transnationalism in contemporary mosque architecture in the Middle East. Rizvi is the author of The Safavid Dynastic Shrine: History, Religion and Architecture in Early Modern Iran (forthcoming) and an editor of Modernism and the Middle East: Architecture and Politics in the Twentieth Century.
Peter G. Roe, Ph.D., is a professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware, where he has taught courses including Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, South American Archaeology, and Technology and Culture. He has conducted extensive field research in Puerto Rico and Peru and authored many scholarly articles and essays on American Indian cultures. Roe has received support for his research from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the University of Delaware, and other organizations. He earned his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Larry Silver, Ph.D., is the Farquhar Professor of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in Northern European painting and graphics of the Renaissance and Reformation periods. In addition to his position at the University of Pennsylvania, Silver has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Northwestern University, and Smith College. He has been the recipient of many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Kress Foundation. A prolific author, Silver has written numerous articles and books, among them Peasant Scenes and Landscapes, Marketing Maximilian, and a survey text, entitled Art in History. He is also the co-author of books including Rembrandt’s Faith and The Graven Image. Silver served as a former president of both the College Art Association and the Historians of Netherlandish Art. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Ilan Stavans, Ph.D., is the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. He is a prolific and wide-ranging author whose books include The Hispanic Condition: Reflections on Culture and Identity in America, Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language, Love and Language, and Gabriel García Márquez: The Early Years. He is the editor of The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, the three-volume set Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories, Cesar Chavez: An Organizer’s Tale, and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. He has been the recipient of numerous honors, among them a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Jewish Book Award, an Emmy nomination, the Latino Hall of Fame Award, and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to his post at Amherst, Stavans has taught at Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Oberlin College, Bennington College, and Columbia University, where he earned his Ph.D. Stavans is chairman and CEO of Quixote Productions, LLC, which has produced TV series and films on Jewish and Latin history and culture.
Andrew Stewart, Ph.D., is Nicholas C. Petris Professor of Greek Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the UC Berkeley excavation team at Tel Dor, Israel. Stewart’s research focuses on ancient Greek art and culture and the later reception of Greek sculpture. Stewart has earned grants and fellowships from the Getty Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Guggenheim Foundation. A recipient of Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Stewart has also taught at Cambridge University, Columbia University, and the University of Otago in New Zealand. Some of his published works include Greek Sculpture: An Exploration (winner of the Wittenborn Memorial Book Award and the Award for Excellence in Professional and Scholarly Publishing); Art, Desire, and the Body in Ancient Greece; and most recently, Classical Greece and the Birth of Western Art. Stewart earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Cambridge University.
Yui Suzuki, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of art history specializing in ancient and medieval Japanese art at the University of Maryland. In addition to her position at the University of Maryland, Suzuki is a fellow for the Yale Initiative for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion. Suzuki focuses her research on Japanese Buddhist icons and is currently writing a book on the worship of Medicine Buddha images in ancient Japan. She earned her M.A. from Sophia University in Japan and her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Robert A. F. (Tenzin) Thurman, Ph.D., is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, the president of Tibet House U.S., an educational nonprofit dedicated to preserving and promoting the culture of Tibet, president of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, and editor-in-chief of the Treasury of the Buddhist Sciences, a long-term translation and publication project of the Tibetan Tengyur canon. A close personal friend of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for more than forty-five years, Thurman is a former Tibetan Buddhist monk. Named one of the “25 Most Influential Americans” by Time magazine in 1997, Thurman is a much sought-after lecturer. His academic and popular writings explore world cultures, politics, and the relevance and application of Tibetan Buddhism to contemporary thought and science. He is a tireless advocate of justice and freedom for the Tibetan nation, within or without China. (http://www.bobthurman.com, http://www.tibethouse.org, http://www.menla.org)