F. Lanier Graham’s Spirit-Matter opens on October 15 and continues through January 4, 2021.
The virtual exhibition provides access to two catalogs, which feature portraits and poem-books representing ancestors and spiritual mentors, along with a select number of objects from the GTU Sacred World Art Collection that he donated to the GTU in 2014. The catalogs can also be purchased as hard copies.
Originally planned for the summer of 2020, the physical exhibition was placed on hold due to the pandemic.
The two catalogs tell the story of Lanier’s geneology and both his ancestor's and his involvement with the sacred. They are intensely personal and informative, joyful and profound (the above images feature his teachers, his godfather and his mother), and above all, visual. Lanier is widely known as a professional curator, professor of museum studies and world religions, and president of the Institute for Aesthetic Development. Along with being a wonderful collector and writer, he is an artist. A chess set that he designed in 1966 is in the MoMA. His written works are extensive and many address issues of aesthetics and the spiritual.
Lanier explains the use of the term “spirit-matter”:
That spirit and matter are connected was an unquestioned perception for 99% of human history everywhere on earth. Historically speaking, it is very strange that the two became separated in recent centuries, as materialism started to gain the upper hand over spirituality. To not be aware of this fundamental nonduality is to be unbalanced. I use the singular term ‘spirit-matter’ to remind people of the Traditional unity.
The virtual exhibition is made possible by the Jane Dillenberger Fine Arts Endowment Fund and a generous donation by F. Lanier Graham.
Spirit-Matter Volume One
The Story of a Collection of Sacred World Art
Spirit-Matter Volume Two
The Story of a Collection of Sacred Modern Art
F. Lanier Graham and the Story of Spirit-Matter
The Graduate Theological Union is very honored to present this virtual exhibition of F. Lanier Graham's art and part of his world sacred art donation. The exhibition is the first part of the project. The second phase is to highlight objects online from the teaching oriented GTU Sacred World Art Collection.
In 2018, F. Lanier Graham was invited to create an exhibit featuring his portraits and poem-books that reflect his spiritual-biographical journey.
He carefully created work case exhibits based on a real-sized model that he built in his garage. Around mid-2019 he shipped over a dozen boxes containing half of the case exhibit. Some of the cases were planned to house creations that he had donated to different museums. He also included some of the objects from the GTU Sacred World Art Collection. A group of the taller sculptures were planned to create a wall of "Spiritual Giants" in front of the first floor art wall.
After the pandemic struck in March, the library and school closed to the public. As the time continued to stretch into the summer, the library decided to move towards a virtual exhibition, presenting online the two exhibit catalogs that he had been working on to supplement and expand upon the physical exhibit. The first volume features his memory constructs and sacred world art. The second tells the story of sacred modern art.
F. Lanier Graham and the Venerable Thepo Rinpoche, the 8th Thepo Tulku, on February 25, 2015 in the library, In Celebration of Tibetan Year 2142, Year of the Wood Sheep: An exhibition of Tibetan art and artifacts from the Sacred World Art Collection, the Northern California Tibetan Community and the Graduate Theological Union Special Collections. (photo by Ron Nakasone)