Episode 05 – Teaching Buddhist Art Using Museum and Gallery Collections, with Wen-shing Chou

In this episode, Sarah Richardson talks with Wen-shing Chou, Associate Professor of Art History at Hunter College in New York, where she specializes in the art of China and the Himalaya.

Sarah and Wen-shing discuss digital photography projects such as the Dunhuang Cave Foundation’s work with preserving and digitally archiving the contents of each cave, and they talk about taking students to see Buddhist art in galleries and museums in New York City during Asia Week.

Show Notes

1:27 – Discussing Hunter College and the students that Wen-shing teaches  

2:05 – Sarah asks what types of courses Wen-shing teaches

2:54 – Wen-shing’s biography

6:01 – Methods of engaging students with Dunhuang

8:08 – Methods of teaching Buddhist art

10:14 – Types of objects and methods of comparison between Buddhist art

13:31 – Ways of engaging with New York City as a teacher

16:18 – The values and ethics behind Buddhist art, and Asia Week in New York

17:02 – Methods of engaging students in how objects are represented

17:46 – Which galleries Wen-shing likes to take students to in NYC.

18:54 – Unusual Milarepa depiction at private gallery in NYC.

19:58 – Teaching with digital technologies and text.

24:35 – Student engagement with Buddhist visuals.

25:59 – Assignments and student skill-building techniques.

27:40 – Integrating personal research into course teachings

31:00 – Types of objects used (paintings, embroideries, etc.)

33:55 – Copies of objects (reproduced or reinterpretations) available today

34:33 – The gifts of Emperor Qianlong and the meanings behind them

36: 29 – Working with graduate students

37: 20 – Graduate writing and helping graduate students with project development

39:07 – Feasible graduate projects

40:10 – Developing personal research, and next steps for Wen-shing

45:10 – C.C. Wang art

47:09 – Art collection and owning art objects.

48:33 – Growth as a teacher and areas for development

52:19 – How studying art helps students understand themselves

53:35 – Ending segment

Resources Mentioned

Wen-shing Chou’s book, Mount Wutai: Visions of a Sacred Buddhist Mountain, Princeton University Press, 2018 

Her book received an honourable mention for the AAS Levenson prize. Read the article here

For high resolution images and virtual tours of select caves, see the Digital Dunhuang website.  (register to see virtual caves in high-resolution)

For manuscripts, paintings, textiles and artefacts from Dunhuang, see International Dunhuang Project website

For an archive of photographs, rare books, and other materials on the Silk Road, see the Digital Silk Road website