The Temple and the concept
Several years ago I first visited Mae Hong Son, a small town set in gorgeous mountains bordering Burma. One of the draws to this remote area was a short sentence in a guide book mentioning an early 19th-century temple, Wat Chong Klang. The temple houses a collection of 185 reverse paintings on glass, brought to the temple in 1857 by Burmese artists from Mandalay. I was quite simply blown away by the experience of standing in the exotic temple set on a serene lake, viewing the phenomenal paintings.
Smitten by the boldness of the paintings, each depicting a tale of Buddha's incarnations, I returned again a few years later. To my dismay, a number of the paintings had been either irreparably damaged or completely destroyed by an earthquake. I left Thailand with the first glimmer of an idea: that I could help. My professional artistic process is reverse painting on glass, large projects weren't new to me, and this was a cultural site deeply in need of an expert hand.
The idea grew, and in 2011 I returned and re-examined the paintings, some of which had deteriorated since my previous visit. After that, the idea became a plan. Last fall I met with the temple's Abbot. I showed him a sample of my work and presented my offer of assistance. The Abbot looked at my sample, and said "It makes me very happy". He then asked if I could replace this one, and this one, and this one, until he'd indicated sixteen paintings in all. I plan to return to Thailand in October with the first 8 paintings for installation.
Reverse painting and who I am
Reverse painting on glass is done in the opposite order of conventional painting: details and shading are painted first, then foreground, then background. The glass panel is then flipped over, and the image is viewed through the glass. It's opaque, like any painting, but more luminous. There are few artists who work in this fragile medium, which requires a certain technical and mental flexibility.
I've exhibited my reverse paintings on glass nationally and internationally, including 8 solo exhibits with New York's Heller Gallery, as well as inclusion in too many group exhibitions to enumerate. My works are in numerous private and public collections, including the permanent collections of The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, The Corning Museum of Glass, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Washington Art Consortium, and Austin/Bergstrom International Airport.
I've spent the past eight years doing commissioned work almost exclusively, all of them quite detailed, and some of them large. In comparison, the Wat Chong Klang works will be calm, small meditations in painting.
You can make the difference. The Thai government's essential and understandable priority has been to repair billions of dollars worth of serious damage to high-trafficked cultural sites, from the horrific flooding in 2011 (I know how bad it was--I was there.)
Mae Hong Son is currently far off-the-beaten-touristic-path. The collection of paintings in Wat Chong Klang is a Buddhist cultural treasure that merits return to it's full impact, but could easily slip through the cracks.
We're now fully funded, thanks to our generous backers! Extra funding we receive during this cycle will go towards the next 8 paintings. These are the most important paintings in the temple, and tell the story of the Buddha's Siddhartha incarnation. See below for ways you can participate!
Pledges and Rewards
It's easy to pledge. Choose a Pledge level with the reward you'd like to receive, click on it, and enter your pledge amount and payment info. Kickstarter operates on an all-or-nothing funding model where the project must be fully funded or no money changes hands. In other words, after I reach my goal, your credit card is charged, and you get your rewards. No goal reached, no rewards, and no charge on your credit card. (Generous souls can enter more than the suggested pledge amount.)
The print and paintings are offered at my well-established prices.
All project supporters will receive frequent project updates--there's a lot happening!
magnet and patch
The image above is a collaboration between Pat Epstein, the art director of The Think Kitchen (www.thethinkkitchen.com) and me.
This print is based on a painting I did as a study for one of the paintings from Wat Chong Klang. Jim Sipowitz of Shell Media (www.shellmedia.com), has generously donated his time to produce these prints for me. SOLD OUT.
NEW PRINT--due to the popularity of the print above, I'm now offering it again, but printed on a different paper, a delicate, translucent handmade rice paper I hand-carried back from Thailand. I don't have much of this paper, so this is a limited edition of only 12. SOLD OUT.
This print is based on a painting I did about the 2011 flooding in Thailand, called high tide. (The wrathful Buddhist deities are actually the most protective.) It's approximately 7" H x 5" W.
signed photo of the temple, showing your offerings to the monks
Monks at Wat Chong Klang receive all their necessities through donations, from food to toothpaste. One of my pledge rewards includes offerings to the monks, with a signed photograph of your offerings, taken in Wat Chong Klang.
small, exclusive studio party to preview the paintings
private tour of Mae Hong Son and Wat Chong Klang
Three nights at wonderful Fern Resort in Mae Hong Son, Thailand--my favorite place--thanks to the generous owner, Tawatchai Natipakorn. You'll also be treated to a guided tour of Wat Chong Klang and local environs by my chef-husband and me, and enjoy some of the best food in northern Thailand. Contact me for more information.
Risks and challenges
I will return to Thailand in the fall with the first 8 paintings. Until then, I need to focus entirely on the paintings. This means setting aside my professional life here: limiting my revenue-producing commissions and exhibits. Even in the early stages, this has already been an expensive project.
Producing (or reproducing, in some cases) the works will around two years, and there will be significant expenses involved in work production and travel to Thailand for installation. Making money isn't even an issue--it's not that sort of project. But I do need cash flow to meet my expenses.
I've developed friendships in Thailand and in Austin with wonderful and influential Thai people who wholeheartedly support this project, and are actively assisting in many ways. I'm committed to completing this first phase, and the cash flow generated by reaching my goal would smooth the path for the second phase.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)