On February 16, 2019, artist Lorraine Capparell unveiled her series Śākyamuni Buddha: A Story on the second floor of Dharma Realm Buddhist University, showcasing ceramic reliefs of the Buddha’s life. The reliefs are three-dimensional depictions directly based on ink illustrations Capparell completed for Professor Ronald Nakasone’s book Ethics of Enlightenment: Essays and Sermons in Search of a Buddhist Ethic. Members of the audience had the unique opportunity to interact with Capparell and Dr. Nakasone.
Capparell shared that it was through sculpture that she was introduced to Buddhism, with a sculpture of the Buddha’s Parinirvāṇa evoking in her a sense of peace in Burma. Later, she encountered Buddhism again while traveling in Japan. Upon discovering Buddhist texts in Japanese hotels, she and her husband read the story of the Buddha to each other, which sparked inspiration for her next project. Capparell expressed that sculpture is a “way of communicating beyond words” and that she wanted to show the classic evocations of the Buddha in her own style.
A patron asked Capparell what her process was. She described that she used a slab roller to prepare clay slabs, which she would stack on top of each other, working the layered material as a whole piece. She continued that with clay she could add and remove parts in the process of creating the artwork. Each relief would take around a week to complete with the stages: “dry, fire, glaze, fire.” Amusedly, she said “Once you get inspired you can’t stop.” The redwood frames around each work were custom made.
The Śākyamuni Buddha: A Story Exhibition is open to the public until May 31, 2019.
Available viewing hours are Monday through Thursday from 9:00AM to 5:00PM and by appointment on the weekend.
Please visit https://www.drbu.edu/events/sakyamuni-buddha-story-exhibition for directions and more information.
Photography by Stan Shoptaugh