Feature Stories Campus Events

Quick Hits: Crux Climbing Competition Students gathered at the bouldering wall in the Outing Club Barn to reach new heights in a friendly competition.

Quick Hits: Gonkar Gyatso’s ‘Buddha’s Picnic’ The interactive exhibit will be on display in Staniar Gallery through March 17.

“’Buddha’s Picnic’ is a visually stunning, immersive installation that…invites people to sit, quite literally, and ponder the contradictory meanings of this shrine-like creation and its fabulous mash-up of imagery.”

When visitors walk into Washington and Lee University’s Staniar Gallery, they may feel as though they have been transported to a picnic in the Tibetan countryside. Artist Gonkar Gyatso’s exhibit “Buddha’s Picnic,” which will be on display through March 17, is an interactive installation that features a modern Tibetan shrine and an actual picnic, replete with snacks and a comfortable place to enjoy them.

Watch the video below to get a glimpse into “Buddha’s Picnic.”

Still photo courtesy of Jake Sirota ’19

Gyatso is best known for his work mixing Buddhist iconography with pop imagery to examine the complexities inherent in defining identity when different cultures simultaneously coexist and conflict. He has recently completed installations in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as in the United States at galleries in Boulder and Atlanta. “Buddha’s Picnic” will be his first installation in the region.

“This exhibition activates the gallery space in exciting new ways,” said Clover Archer, director of the Staniar Gallery.

Melissa Kerin, associate professor of art history at W&L, worked with Gyatso and Archer on this project over the past two years. She explained that “Buddha’s Picnic” is “a visually stunning, immersive installation that subversively combines playful, seemingly innocent plastic figurines of Tibetan monks and My Little Pony with sobering posters of political figures from the People’s Republic of China and advertisements for beauty products. This body of work invites people to sit, quite literally, and ponder the contradictory meanings of this shrine-like creation and its fabulous mash-up of imagery.”

The idea for the installation grew out of conversations between Gyatso and Kerin, who were introduced in 2015 by W&L alumna Victoria Andrews ’15. While discussing their shared interest in shrines—Kerin’s academic and Gyatso’s artistic—they decided to explore the idea of creating a multidisciplinary shrine-focused project. The two have given talks on campus, at the Smithsonian’s Freer/Sackler Galleries and New York’s Asia Society about this work and the powerful role of shrines.

“Buddha’s Picnic” was funded by a $10,000 grant from the Robert Lehman Foundation, as well as funding from the Office of the Provost at W&L, which allowed Staniar Gallery and the Art and Art History Department to expand the scope of the project. Consequently, Gyatso was brought to campus from Chengdu, China to create this site-specific installation with W&L students.

“The additional funding allowed us to support Gyatso in realizing an ambitious new project, one that would not have been possible otherwise,” said Archer.

This was Washington and Lee’s first grant from the Robert Lehman Foundation. Based in New York, the foundation’s mission is to “fulfill and further [founder] Robert Lehman’s vision and therefore to support the visual arts in any fashion that seems likely to enhance the appreciation, knowledge and enjoyment of this central aspect of our culture.” Grants are made to museums, arts organizations, educational institutions and other cultural organizations with the goal of enhancing the role of the visual arts within American and world culture.

Staniar Gallery is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee University’s Lenfest Center for the Arts. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call (540)-458-8861.

Quick Hits: Setting the Stage at Lenfest Center Students play a key role in creating the visual styling for upcoming productions by the theater department.

Tickets are on sale now for both “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.” Click here for more information or to buy tickets.

Video: MLK Basketball Tournament Washington and Lee students took to the court on Jan. 14 to raise money for a local nonprofit and celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

On Jan. 14, the Student Association for Black Unity (SABU) at Washington and Lee hosted a basketball tournament to raise money for Saturday’s Child, a youth education and enrichment program based in Buena Vista.

The tournament was one of many events planned to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Events continue through Sunday, Jan. 21. For the complete schedule, click here.

Quick Hits: Just Roll With It In Bubble Soccer, everyone's full of hot air.

Campus Recreation hosted a game of Bubble Soccer on a recent weeknight, and students geared up for the fun. The winner? In our book, any player who could stay on two feet.

Past, Present and Future Celebrating a major milestone in the Shepherd Poverty Program.

On the occasion of the Shepherd Poverty Program’s 20th anniversary, faculty, alumni, staff and students reflect on its origins, its impact and why it’s important to W&L.

Related //

Slideshow: Backstage with ‘The Addams Family’

Excitement is building on the Washington and Lee University campus for the opening of “The Addams Family, A New Musical,” just in time for Halloween. University photographer Shelby Mack went backstage with the cast as they prepared for the first full dress rehearsal on Monday, Oct. 23.

The show will run Thursday, Oct. 26 through Sunday, Oct. 29. For more information, click here.

If you miss this performance, don’t miss the next one! Keep an eye on this page for info about upcoming events at the Lenfest Center.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

VIDEO: Appalachian Adventure 2017 Appalachian Adventure, which takes students on a four-night hike of the Appalachian Trail, is the most popular pre-orientation trip at W&L.

Related //

VIDEO: Sustainability Leadership Trip Students on the Sustainability Leadership pre-orientation trip had a chance to meet local food producers and learn about W&L's commitment to the environment.