Emphasizing first-hand experiences and fostering connections
Heramba Ganapati, a variant of Ganesha, the Hindu deity of good fortune and removal of obstacles, appears with five faces. This may be a good metaphor for Towson University’s Asian Arts & Culture Center, which indeed faces and relates to many different communities that surround it.
Emphasizing first-hand experience and fostering connections wherever possible, this tiny gallery and organization is a channel connecting the cultures of the world’s largest continent to Maryland, Greater Baltimore, and Towson University.With the world’s focus shifting inexorably to Asia—especially in the crescent from Korea to the southeast, India, Persia, and the Middle East—gaining an understanding of these cultures has never been more urgent.
Asian art reflects a sense of a continuum between fine art and folk tradition; former director Suewhei Shieh featured this trait during her 27 years there. The current director, Joanna Pecore, has expanded this continuum to include Japanese tattoo art, Korean pop music and even “Sufi Rock,” using her background as an ethnomusicologist to advantage in relating these products to an academic setting. In addition to their own collection of art objects and gallery exhibits, a few examples of the AA&CC’s work include:
- For-credit courses at Towson University in Asian cultural history and Cambodian classical music, among other subjects.
- A four-day residency by Tibet’s Drepung Loseling Monastery featuring ceremonies, lectures and the creation of a Akshobhya mandala sandpainting.
- Many stage, music and dance productions showcasing Asian performance, and collaborations with Creative Alliance and other organizations across Maryland.
- An immersive installation created by a Muslim student, an intimate space where visitors could reflect on their own “jihad”or personal struggles and share them with others.
Visit the Asian Arts & Culture Center at their home in the Towson University Center for the Arts, or online at: https://www.towson.edu/campus/artsculture/centers/asianarts/