Last month, we published the first entry in our new blog series where Rubin Museum staff members pick out their favorite artwork from our galleries. In this month’s conversation, a staff member shares her love and fascination for one of the newest objects on display:
What’s your name and role at the Museum?
My name is Elyse Rodriguez Aleman and I am the Programming Box Office Coordinator at the Rubin—I facilitate ticket sales for museum programs.
Which art object did you select? Why is this object special to you?
I chose the Wrathful Shrine Doors in the newly expanded Tibetan Buddhist Shrine room.
Before I started working here, I did not know a lot about Himalayan Art”¦and I’m still learning! Something that has been particularly striking to me is the representation of wrathful deities.
Although they have a frightening appearance, with bulging eyes, exposed fangs, flaming hair and skull headdress, these enlightened beings are on your side. They are the ones that will fiercely protect you, while serving as a reminder of the courage needed to dispel ignorance. In this context, Mahakala (the deity depicted,) is protecting access to the shrine behind it—which would most likely hold more wrathful imagery and was not meant for everyone.
How does the object make you feel?
To me, the wrathful doors are a commanding presence in the calm of the shrine room.
The symmetry of the panels, along with the abundant symbolism and imagery, gives the eyes so much to study. I love to sit and listen to the chanting and smell hints of incense while taking in the beauty of the piece. Within the calming space, the wrathful doors imbue a serene atmosphere with a powerful energy and strength.
What else do you hope first-time visitors take away from an encounter with the artwork?
Although the imagery itself is intricate and varied, take a second to also notice the woodworking of the door frame, which is wonderful in and of itself!
See the Wrathful Shrine Doors and the full Sacred Spaces exhibtion on an Exhibition Highlights Tour.
Tours run twice a day and are included with admission.