Inside Two of the Tang’s Spring Exhibitions
Now that the spring semester is up and running, the Tang Teaching Museum is preparing to unveil their new spring exhibitions. Two that are set to open on Feb. 9 are Like Sugar — co-organized by Sarah Goodwin, professor from the English department, and Rachel Seligman, assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs — and The Second Buddha: Master of Time — co-produced by the Tang and the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. These exhibitions will be on display until the end of May.
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The idea of an exhibition surrounding a common household theme like sugar stems from an interdisciplinary interest in the particular topic. Goodwin and Seligman, alongside three more co-curators Professors Nurcan Atalan-Helicke, Monica Raveret-Richter, and Trish Lyell, provided the behind-the-scenes insights into the world of sugar and the curatorial process of creating this museum exhibit. Through a long process, this team was able to assemble a multi-dimensional exhibition involving pieces from all mediums — from sculpture, to paintings, and even involving some student work as well.
The idea of sugar goes deeper than just the D-Hall cookies that we consume everyday. Seligman explained that “[Sugar] reveals itself immediately as this amazing subject that touches on every aspect of our lives. It’s intertwined with our history, the history of the Western colonial world and beyond.” One goal of the installation is to get the audience to think about sugar in different realms and develop their own opinions about how sugar affects their daily lives and any issues that may arise surrounding sugar.
Goodwin revealed she “had a lifelong interest in sugar,” which served as the starting point for this project. She went on to explain how “When I first started getting an allowance at the age of five, I would walk with my brother to the corner bakery and buy gummy bears. I thought that was what money was for.”
As Goodwin got older, she realized her memories of sugar were always intertwined with capitalism, and “If you think of sugar not just as molecules you ingest, in our culture it’s become a concept of sweetness that is inseparable from spending money and consuming.” This idea of connecting sugar to capitalism is one that is a explored deeply throughout the exhibit and is portrayed as a major theme.
The Second Buddha: Master of Time
The Second Buddha: Master of Time, is another noteworthy exhibit that is rich in history and spiritual interpretation. This collection — co-produced by the Tang and the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City — focuses on the life of Padmasambhava, a well-known Indian historical figure who introduced the Buddhist religion to Tibet.
The collection consists of forty pieces, both sculpture and painting. These pieces were created centuries ago, ranging from the 13th century to the 19th centuries. The exhibit is organized into three groups that highlight the narrative of Padmasambhava’s life and his manifestations.
This exhibit is in collaboration with the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City, a museum that specializes in Asian, Indian art with an emphasis on artistry from the Himalayas. Through Seligman and representatives from the Rubin, this show was transported from New York City to Saratoga Springs and curated to tailor the Tang Museum.
This exhibit will also introduce the general public to the cultural phenomenon that is Padmasambhava, which is very exciting for those involved in creating it. Seligman voiced her excitement saying, “What I am really hoping is that audiences will come and see this show and will get to see Tibetan art, maybe even for the first time or in a long time. They might begin to understand a little bit more about how it's made, why its made, what Tibetan Buddhism is about and it will really expand people's knowledge of another aspect of the world.”
Opportunities to visit non-Western art are scarce in Saratoga Springs, and even in the capital district, so this exhibit is significant in shedding new light onto aspects of Tibetan art that are often not recognized to their full potential.
“Like Sugar” and “The Second Buddha: Master of Time” opens at the Tang from next weekend. For more information on these exhibits, visit the Tang Museum website.
This article was originally published with misleading information; this has since been changed.