Every month, the Museum blog profiles a Rubin staff member, who shares their favorite art object from the Museum collection with readers.
This month, Olivia Buscarino, Assistant Manager of School and Family Programs, leads us through the galleries to discuss a painting of Buddha Shakyamuni.
What do you do at the Museum?
My job entails planning, designing, and implementing programs for School and Family Programs. I work with the K-12 audience and spend a lot of time brainstorming art-making activities for free Family Sunday programs (we have a new theme each month!). I also think about how to help teachers and their students get the most out of their visits to the Museum, through special themed tours and workshops. This summer, I have turned my focus toward the Block Party which will be this Sunday, July 17! My team and I have designed nine art making activities all themed around our exhibition Nepalese Seasons: Rain and Ritual.
What can you tell us about this painting of the Buddha Shakyamuni? Why is it your favorite?
Buddha Shakyamuni is one of the first objects I taught with at the museum when I was part of the Apprentice Museum Educator Program in 2010. The painting depicts the “historical Buddha,” often referred to simply as “the Buddha,” whose life and spiritual journey many people learn about as an introduction to Buddhism.
I am drawn to this piece because of the warm tones of the Buddha’s skin and robe. They invite you to look closer and see the details of the buddha’s features and the robe’s design. I also love the way the blue of the sky fades into the land and you can see the mountains in the background.
The Buddha’s hand is in the earth-touching gesture, signaling to the viewer that he is at the moment of enlightenment. The detail that keeps me coming back to this piece is the gold rays of light emanating off of the Buddha in all directions. When teaching with school groups, I like to tell the story of the Buddha while highlighting some of the key features of the story illustrated in the painting.
See the painting of Buddha Shakyamuni for yourself in the Museum exhibition, Gateway to Himalayan Art. The exhibition will be open and free to the public during the annual Rubin Museum Block Party on July 17.