Art as Moral Action: Interdisciplinary Dunhuang

WAC 100B • Summer 2016 (Session C) 
Designed by UCLA Distinguished Professor of the Arts and award-winning director Peter Sellars, Art as Moral Action: Interdisciplinary Dunhuang continues Sellars' mission of showing the way art can serve as a force for social justice and moral development.
Taking advantage of the Getty's landmark Cave Temples of Dunhuang exhibition, this course draws its inspiration and focus from Silk Road-era Dunhuang, particularly the Buddhist art and artifacts of the Mogao Caves and the city's role as a nexus of art, religion, and multicultural interaction. Sellars helps students draw parallels between the cultural phenomena and philosophical ideas found at Dunhuang and their own vibrantly multicultural Los Angeles community through field trips to downtown marketplaces, artist studios, museums, film screenings and more, as well as thoughtful presentations by guest artists and lecturers.
For centuries, Dunhuang was the western frontier of China, the terminus of the Great Wall, and the gateway to the rest of the world - peoples, goods, cultures, and religions. Buddhism arrived in China through Dunhuang, and for one thousand years, pilgrims and grateful devotees created over 600 immersive art installations in sacred caves on the edge of the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts. These caves represent the evolution of Buddhist iconography and ritual as created by populations on the move. This course explores the multicultural and interdisciplinary implications of this astonishing body of work for contemporary culture, spiritual practice, geopolitics, environmental, and immigration issues. Interdisciplinary Dunhuang pays particular attention to the ongoing transformation of Buddhism itself in our lifetime, as populations forced to move across frontiers adopt newly imagined practices and vocabularies. Students explore the Cave Temples of Dunhuang exhibition, concurrently on view at the Getty, and create projects that take them into Los Angeles' diverse international communities.
View pictures and learn more about the Interdisciplinary Dunhuang course content, guest lecturers, and activities by following the links below.
Click here to view a public discussion of Buddhism and Dunhuang between UCLA Professor/ theater artists, Peter Sellars and Columbia Professor Robert Thurman that took place at the Getty on August 10, 2016.