Anonymous No More


Ang Sang, Faces of Buddha, 2011, Acrylic on canvas, Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection.

Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art, an exhibition of contemporary Tibetan art presented by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz is on view now through 15 December, 2013, featuring over 50 works of painting, sculpture, mixed media, installation, and video art created by 27 artists living in Tibet. Tibet, which has been occupied by China since 1951, is largely closed off from the Western world. Travel outside of the country is restricted and there are staunch limitations on its exports. To help make Tibetan art more accessible to American audiences, curator of the museum Weingeist conceived the show “Anonymous.” She invited Tibetan artists living all over the world to submit their work anonymously for the exhibition, believing that this option would allow artists to “express themselves without any repercussions.” When she began organizing the exhibition, however, she found that the opposite was true -despite possible consequences, all of the artists 
wanted to sign their work.


Dedron, Mona Lisa, 2012, Mineral pigment on canvas, Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection.

Anonymous seeks to explore the tension between an ancient culture’s unbroken artistic tradition and the personality-​​driven world of contemporary art. In traditional Tibetan art, a formal system of art production was used to support the transmission of Buddhist culture. In the present atmosphere however, art is becoming a vital medium of self-​​expression for Tibetans -increasingly, artists are creating work focused on the individual. A cautious 21st century visual language steeped in irony, metaphor, and allusion has fully emerged. The resulting show is a candid depiction of modern Tibetan life and is one of the first museum exhibitions of contemporary Tibetan art to be presented in the United States.

Monday, November 4, 7:30 pm
Distinguished Speaker, Robert A. F. Thurman 

Presented in conjunction with The Dorsky exhibition, Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art Robert A. F. Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, a non-profit affiliated with the Center for Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and dedicated to the publication of translations of important texts from the Tibetan Tengyur. For more information and tickets visit here


The exhibition will travel to the Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont and the Queens Museum of Art in New York next year. The majority of artworks in the exhibition are on loan from Shelley and Donald Rubin, who donated a vast collection of Himalayan art to the Rubin Museum of Art in New York. They are also the founders of the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, a philanthropic organization that has conducted seminars on Tibetan literature and art, generated online art databases, and launched a campaign to compile comprehensive biographies of Tibetan Buddhist and Bon masters, among other projects. Weingeist is a senior advisor to the foundation, and has helped promote Tibetan art by bringing artists from that region to the Rubin’s Artist-In-Residency Program in Vermont and organizing exhibitions such as this.