Alumni Spotlight -- Maxwell Holden at the Intersection between Art and Buddhism
"For me, the artistic approach is the middle ground to pull the academic and faith together. "
Maxwell Holden's Woodenfish Story
In 2012, I was a graduate student in region and studio art. My advisor recommended this workshop to me. I participated in the BIC (Buddhism in China) program in Shanghai, and visited about 20 temples. I I loved how Yifa packed so much into each day. I am really interested in Chinese Buddhism and want to get back to China and see Buddhist Art at a whole new level. I am planning to go back to China soon to do research on Han Dynasty religious art from 1965 onwards.
Memorable Moments from the Program
We met many abbots of the temples. They talked to us about the cultural revolution, and the artworks at the temples. The program changed my view on Chinese art. It might just be me, but I found it fascinating to see the deterioration of temples – how they rot in certain ways that look fascinating in layers. These artworks provided me with so many inspirations. At the same time, the efforts the monks made to preserve their cultural heritage was also incredibly respectable. I also loved attending an art show at directed by a famous Chinese director near Putuo Shan.
How Has Buddhism Played into Your Career?
I am a Buddhist practitioner. For me, the artistic approach is the middle ground to pull the academic and faith together. For me, Buddhism is a subjective experience and cannot be replaced by a completely objective academic approach. I am currently at a crossroads between climate change, arts, and Buddhism. Buddhism has an interesting dialogue around environment and people. It is about examining the world beyond individual experience, and practicing the life of minimal (negative) impact on the environment. Part of my project will be photography that I take along the way while I travel in China. I will also collect arts and crafts from different places that exhibit these narratives of environment and Buddhism through storytelling. I am looking for people who made religious art to tell stories related to climate change, or just religious narratives in general. I have been looking for connections with such people in China and conversations about the environment.
Quotes from Max
"Buddhism is a subjective experience and cannot be replaced by a completely objective academic approach."
"Buddhism is about examining the world beyond individual experience, and practicing the life of minimal (negative) impact on the environment. "
Max's Ceramic Artworks
Note: The content above is transcribed from an interview with Maxwell Holden, and parts are verbatim transcription, others are paraphrases. The pictures are from Mr.Holden's Facebook page.