Smithsonian’s Sackler curator, Debra Diamond, speaks Thursday, April 10, 2014, on “Yoga: The Art of Transformation” at the Asian Art Museum
Debra Diamond, curator of South Asian art at the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler Galleries of Art, and curator of Yoga: The Art of Transformation at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum (AAM) through May 25, 20114, will speak at the museum on Thursday, April 10, at 7 PM about the process of creating the first major study on the visual culture of yoga. Diamond, who also edited the exhibition’s comprehensive catalog of the same title, will chart the project, starting with its initial concept and research through interdisciplinary collaborations with scholars, yoga practitioners and exhibition designers. Focusing on the masterworks currently on view at AAM, she will illuminate how visual culture conveys embodied transformations and reveals yoga’s diverse and profound manifestations in history. Diamond led the press tour for the exhibition when it opened in February. She is a top-rate scholar and engaging speaker and had the press corps transfixed with her detailed explanations of the history and significance of these rare artifacts.
Diamond devoted six years to preparing the groundbreaking exhibition and selected its roughly 140 artworks from more than 30 different places around the world. Her exhibition catalogue for Garden and Cosmos: The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur (fall 2008) received two major awards for scholarship: the College Art Association’s Alfred H. Barr award and the Smithsonian Secretary’s Award for Research. She has also published on yoga imagery, new methods in Indian art history, contemporary Asian art, and various aspects of the Freer|Sackler collections. After her talk, Debra Diamond will be signing exhibition catalogs in North Court, outside of the museum store.
ARThound spoke to Debra Diamond at the AAM’s press conference about her interest in the art of yoga:
“The major group of paintings in “Garden and Cosmos” were the hatha yoga and Nath Sampraday which were the core of the project and also of my dissertation (at Columbia). In studying them over the years, I found that there was no written material and no one knew much about the Nath Sampraday. I would look through Indian art books for clues as to how these images developed and I kept whatever was relevant in a cardboard box and crated that around with me. The minute that “Garden and Cosmos” closed, I proposed this exhibition to the Sackler. I said we can expand from that one moment. We can look at how yoga manifested in history over time and through various cultures if we follow the visual history and it will be fascinating. I realized that no one had put it together. Because yoga was so central to Indian culture, the greatest artists worked on these tatvas and we could tell the story of yoga through the great masterpieces of Indian art. This reframing has been completely engaging.”
Note: Seating capacity is limited – first come, first served.
Details: Yoga: The Art of Transformation is at the Asian Art Museum through May 25, 2014. The Asian Art Museum is located at 200 Larkin Street (at Civic Center Plaza), San Francisco. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended evening hours every Thursday until 9 p.m. Admission (Yoga: Art of Transformation exhibition is included in general admission): $10 Adults; $10 seniors, students; $10 youth 13-17 and free to 12 and under. On weekends, admission is $2 more. Parking: The Asian Art Museum does not have a parking facility, but it is served by the following parking facilities—all within walking distance of the museum: Civic Center Plaza Garage is the closest and most reasonably priced and has 840 spaces. From Van Ness, turn left on McAllister. Entrance is on McAllister, between Polk and Larkin Streets. Info: www.asianart.org.
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