Joy Lynn Davis Remembering the Lost: Community Response to the Theft of Nepal's Sacred Sculptures

Artist's Talk & Reception: Friday, March 3, 5:30pm
Wilson Hall's Concert Hall
In this project, artist and researcher Joy Lynn Davis documents community response to the theft of sacred stone sculptures from the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal through paintings, photographs, interviews, and research.  While Nepal's sacred sculptures are now admired as works of art in museums and private collections around the world, Nepal's communities mourn the losses of them as living gods.  Davis recontextualizes the stolen sculptures by painting them returned to Kathmandu's temples and shrines.  Stolen sculptures are painted in 23-karat gold making them easily identifiable and referencing the commodification of the sacred.  Didactic panels accompany each painting, featuring historical images of the sculptures, current photographs of the sites, excerpts of interviews with local devotees and temple caretakers, and information about the sculptures, thefts, and any replicas. The exhibit explores the ethics of the art trade and provides an example of the ongoing problem of illicit-trafficking of cultural property worldwide.  An accompanying website features a map and database of all known thefts.  Joy Lynn Davis is the founder of Himalayan Art and Cultural Project (501c3 nonprofit).  She divides her time between California and Nepal, and has been an artist in residence at Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre and Santa Fe Art Institute.

Image: 15th Century Lakshmi Narayan, Patan, Nepal; 2013; acrylic with 23 karat gold on cotton rag paper; 40 x 30 inches