In my research so far, I have made multiple visits to document and experience the “Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art” exhibit at SUNY New Paltz. I have also interviewed the contemporary Tibetan artist, Kesang Lamdark, as well as met artist Tenzing Rigdol and made plans to interview him in the future. I attended a curator-led gallery tour of the “Anonymous” show and a lecture over contemporary Tibetan Art, Culture, and Identity. My literature review is steadily growing as I continue to add sources and synopses. I’ve also had a review of the “Anonymous” exhibit published by an online contemporary art magazine: ArtExperienceNYC. Finally, I have drafted a detailed outline for the entire research paper and am developing my own terminology to better discuss the issues, symbols, and styles of contemporary Tibetan art and culture.
Through discussion and research, Dr. Lee and I have developed the hypothesis that there is a Renaissance of Tibetan art and culture in the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Tibetan diaspora. There is an outpouring of contemporary art within the TAR and abroad, drawing on centuries of traditional Tibetan art and adapting it, fusing it, and creating something entirely new. The scope of style, subject matter, and theme differ between artists. The over-arching mission is instead a redefining of Tibetan culture by addressing what it means to be Tibetan in the 21st century. Three main themes occur within that redefinition: Identity, Culture Convergence, and Political Commentary. Due to the limited amount of research still within the contemporary Tibetan art field, my comparisons, conclusions, and new terminology will hopefully push for further scholarship and establish an understanding of Tibetan art as a means for cultural preservation, resurrection, and evolution.
I am still in the phase of my research where I feel like I am left with more questions than answers. For example, I am still trying to understand why there are only two established female Tibetan contemporary artists among a sea of male artists. Is there a cultural stigma against women artists? Were no Tibetan Buddhist nuns ever trained in the art of thangka painting? I’m also wondering if contemporary Tibetan art, particularly those that utilize Buddhist iconography, is still seen as blasphemous since they are not executed with the same pious rituals or in the proper style? These questions don’t daunt me but instead further my interest in the research to uncover the answers and flesh out my arguments further!