Newar Craftsmen exhibition installation view
The Newar Craftsmen of Kathmandu Valley: Objects of Devotion from Nepal
November 1 - December 15, 2018
The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross exhibited “The Newar Craftsmen of Kathmandu Valley: Objects of Devotion from Nepal” from Nov. 1 – Dec. 15, 2018. Featuring repouseé metal work, lost wax castings, wood carvings, and paintings created by the Newar craftsmen of the Kathmandu Valley, the exhibition was guest curated by James A. Giambrone, an independent scholar and long-time resident of the region. An opening reception was held on Thurs., Nov. 1 from 5 – 7 p.m., with opening remarks at 5:30 p.m. by Giambrone and Todd Lewis, distinguished professor of arts and humanities, who teaches in the Religious Studies Department at the College.
As contemporary artisans using traditional techniques, the Newars are among the last groups in the world to continue to make devotional art for both Buddhist and Hindu practices following pre-industrial, highly refined artistic traditions, making objects with designs dating back at least a thousand years. The exhibition will feature detailed displays illustrating each step in the creation of metal master works, while also highlighting painting and wood carving. Documentary photographs will also illustrate the visually rich experience of the Newar traditions, while providing cultural context for the objects on display.
Most of the objects are made for household use and in temples by individuals and priests. Through the global diaspora of Hinduism and Buddhism, the craftsmanship of Newar artisans are now represented in sanctuaries, homes, and private collections across the world.
James Giambrone spent many years studying every aspect of each tradition’s artistic methods, curated displays at the Living Traditions Museum in Kathmandu, and supported the Newar artists through gallery exhibitions. He will lecture about each of the major forms of artistry, traditions that he has devoted his life’s work to document, support, and promote.
Professor Lewis, who helped bring the exhibition to Holy Cross, teaches courses in Buddhism, Hinduism, and East Asian religions, has been a member of the faculty for 28 years. Lewis’ expertise gives relevant insight into the importance of the work to be shown. “The extant, and thriving, artisan traditions highlighted in this exhibition provide a window on the once-central nexus of Buddhist communities across ancient and medieval South Asia, combining monastic institution building with artistic communities, sacred icon markets, and merchant patronage. It was through meeting the needs of local devotees and pilgrims that Buddhism prospered, and spread across the Silk Route in its missionary expansion to East Asia. Newars today are reorienting their extraordinary classical artisanship to the global Buddhist temple art supply market, tourist sales, and connoisseur collectors," said Lewis.
Lewis mentored and trained a group of students of Newar descent from the Boston area Nepali community who attend Holy Cross to serve as docents for the exhibition. Licelot Caraballo, Trishala Manandhar, Princy Sindurakar, and Smarika Suwal will be available to provide guided tours. To make a reservation, please contact the Gallery’s office at 508-793-3356.
Roger Hankins, director of the Cantor Art Gallery, says “We worked diligently for months to bring these objects from Nepal to Holy Cross, and were honored to showcase the highly skilled craftsmanship of the Newar people. It was our privilege to be able share these master works with the community – students, scholars, and anyone who may have an interest in these traditions.”
The exhibition was made possible with support from the College's Asian Studies Program and Religious Studies Department. The Gallery will be closed during Thanksgiving break, Nov. 21 – 25.
5 – 7 p.m.
Thurs., Nov. 1 | Cantor Art Gallery
Metalworking Techniques Demonstration by local artist and craftsman Neal Rosenblum
Mon., Nov. 5 |4:30 p.m. | Millard Sculpture Studio
Gallery Talks by exhibition curator James Giambrone
“Metamorphosis: Sheet Metal to Sacred Image in Nepal”
Tues., Nov. 6, 4 p.m. | Cantor Art Gallery
“The Ancient Method of Lost Wax Casting as Practiced by the Newars of Kathmandu Valley”
Wed., Nov. 7, 4 p.m. | Cantor Art Gallery
“Techniques of Antiquity: Traditional Newar Religious Painting in the Kathmandu Valley”
Thurs., Nov. 8, 4 p.m. | Cantor Art Gallery
Lecture by Todd Lewis, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Humanities
“Seeing and Understanding Living Buddhist Arts”
Mon., Nov. 12, 4:30 p.m. | Cantor Art Gallery