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Archive for the ‘Creating Buddhas film’ Category

Every screening of Creating Buddhas is a wonderful opportunity to connect with curious, appreciative people and to share something about a world and an art form I love to talk about. But last Saturday’s screening at the Drikung Kyobpa Choling Tibetan Meditation Center in Escondido, California was extraordinary. A couple of surprise guests helped me to see how valuable and important this film is.

Two Tibetans — Lekshay, a fabric thangka maker and good friend of my teacher Dorjee Wangdu, and Tenzin, son of Namsa Chenmo, personal tailor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Both have lived in San Diego for a number of years. Though I didn’t recognize him at first, Lekshay was a frequent visitor to the tsemkhang (sewing workshop) during my apprenticeship. As we talked on Saturday, the memories moved closer. His daughter had found the Creating Buddhas on YouTube and had told her father who recognized my name. So they responded enthusiastically to the center’s invitation for a screening.

I was a bit anxious sharing the film with Tibetans. I had had a similar feeling a week before as thangka painter, Pema Namdol Thaye, watched in Pasadena. I’m carrying on their tradition. I come from outside the culture. Will they think I’m presumptuous? Will they disagree with my statements? Will they object to the ways I’ve evolved my technique?

After the film, my doubts dissolved. During the question-and-answer session, Lekshay and Tenzin expressed gratitude and appreciation for the film, for Isadora’s production of it, and for my continuing production of fabric thangkas in the west. They spoke of their own limited capacity (and that of Tenzin’s father, Namsa Chenmo) to communicate in English, to present their cultural tradition effectively, and they thanked Isadora and me for doing it. They, and I, were almost moved to tears.

Sometimes I think that making silk thangkas is just too impractical. Sometimes I think of giving it up. At some of those times, a feeling of responsibility keeps me going. I feel I have a responsibility to continue, though I’m not sure to whom or to what. Last Saturday, that sense of responsibility was reinforced. Lekshay has not made thangkas for some years. Working to make a living doesn’t leave enough time. Life in the west doesn’t support this kind of work… I have always known I enjoyed favorable circumstances. Saturday I gained a renewed appreciation for just how precious my situation is. I can continue to make silk thangkas. I can teach. I can write. Not everyone can. Perhaps Lekshay and I will be able to collaborate in the future, to exhibit our work together.

This week I’m grateful for the film, for Isadora’s confidence and perseverance, for Tibetan culture, for smiles… and for YouTube.

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Click on the picture below to play the trailer of the documentary Isadora Leidenfrost and I have been working on.

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A trailer of the documentary film, Creating Buddhas, has been posted on the Soulful Media website. Isadora filmed my final stitches to the Green Tara thangka a couple of weeks ago and will complete editing in the coming months. She’s done some beautiful film work and conducted some insightful interviews with renowned scholars of Tibetan art, such as Robert Thurman, Glenn Mullin and Jonathan Landaw and with China Galland, noted writer on Tara and feminine spirituality. I love watching the thangkas from a third-person perspective and hearing other people talk about the preciousness of this tradition. It’s somewhat less comfortable hearing the narrator speak of me in grand terms. I’m not used to being in the public eye, and I usually feel that what I’m doing is nothing special… except in its special economic impracticality and extreme time consumption! It’s nice to be reminded of a different, more appreciative perspective.

Tara Trailer Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo hands drawing flower pieces stitching Tara Robert Thurman China Galland Glenn Mullin

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