Sunday, April 24, 2011

The View From Here: Infinite Light Edition

 Yesterday proved to be a particularly rainy and grey day. It seemed like a perfect day for a trip to the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. Who knew the museum was such a happening place. I got there shortly after it opened and there was already a line waiting to get up the front steps of the museum. Despite being crabby at the crowds, it was reassuring to see that art still matters for so many people.

The museum, by the way, has recently undergone a major expansion. The new architecture provides some great places where the outside is brought inside. The image pictured above is a view from a hallway.

Anyway, there is an exhibit going on in galleries 278B and 278C entitled Heaven and Hell in Japanese Art. It really caught my eye. The sculpture to the left was constructed in 1737 of carved, lacquered, and joined wood, and inlaid rock crystal eyes. It pictures Amitabha, the Buddha of infinite light. It is said by some that Amitabha greets those who have died and helps them see through various kinds of illusions so they can be born in a "pure land" and become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas themselves and help more people become enlightened.

In contrast to this carving of Amitabha, there was a silk screen entitled "Inevitable Change." It pictures an aristocratic looking woman wearing red. She is surrounded by cherry blossoms. She is pictured again looking recently dead and beginning to decay. Pictured a third time her eyes are dead and bulging. A fourth image shows her body being eaten by creatures. The fifth and final image shows little more than an eroded decayed skeleton. The silk screen is a good reminder that the one constant in all of our lives is growth and decay.

I didn't go to the MFA to see this particular exhibit. I'd seen it already the Buddhas. I wanted to see the Chihuly glass exhibit. I'll have to plan another trip to the museum to see the glass. A rainy Saturday is apparently not the ideal day to see the work. I had gotten in line but realized the wait would be well over an hour. Seeing that I was already saturated with what I saw, it didn't make sense to stay in line to see glass that I wouldn't really be seeing.

I did get two glimpses of Chihuly's work. The image above was captured from a window in the new Art of the America's wing of the museum. The image below is one that I took during the brief period of time I waited in line to see the exhibit. The image doesn't really capture the scale of the yellowish green thingy. It stretched from floor to ceiling--nearly three floors.

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