As a winner of the Museum’s Dorner Prize 2019, Nathan Wong (RISD BFA 2019 Printmaking) shares his meditation performance in the Museum.
"Outside of museums, statues of Buddha and Buddhist relics are passionately cared for, eagerly prayed to, frequently visited, and colorfully adorned with flowers, jewels, gold offerings, and saffron-dyed silks. The monks and nuns that care for these cultural treasures are dressed in shades of maroon, orange, and pink, offering contrast to the often gold-leafed surfaces. This is my experience of Buddhism, observed during visits to temples with my grandmother and family throughout Myanmar and Los Angeles.
This performance piece references the RISD Museum’s Buddha Mahavairocana (Dainichi Nyorai), located in the Asian galleries on the sixth floor. The larger-than-life Buddha there appears quiet, lonely, almost asleep, and without evidence of prayers or offerings. Asian galleries at many museums—not just the RISD Museum—are presented almost universally as dark, meditative galleries focused on an archeological view of objects. In my performance piece, I bring that quiet, spiritual energy to this brightly lit and lively gallery, questioning the practice of othering Asian art in Western museums.
I invite everyone to join the meditation, but I ask that visitors participate in the tradition of removing shoes before entering the sacred space. Please also be respectful of the silence."
– Nathan Wong
Free with admission.
RISD students submit Dorner Prize proposals for temporary, site-specific projects at the RISD Museum. This artistic intervention can take the form of a physical, digital, or programmatic encounter, and can examine, critique, or celebrate the Museum’s collections, architectural idiosyncrasies, habits of visitation, and or/web presence. Two winners receive cash prizes and implementation funds. Winning proposals are performed or installed during the spring term. The Dorner Prize, named for distinguished RISD Museum director Alexander Dorner (tenure 1938–1941), is made possible by a generous anonymous gift.