Shamans walking on knives, fairies riding on clouds, kings with dragon mounts: they are spirits and they are paper images. Curator Laurel Kendall explores what makes a Korean shaman painting magical or sacred. Can a picture said to carry the trace of a spirit ever be “just a painting” again? How have shaman paintings been revalued as art by Korean collectors?” Do artfulness and magic ever intersect? Navigating the journey shaman paintings make from painters’ studios to shaman shrines to private collections and museums, Kendall will traverse the borderland between scholarly interest in the material dimensions of religious practice and the circulation of art.
A book signing of God Pictures in Korean Contexts: The Ownership and Meaning of Shaman Paintings by Laurel Kendall, Jongsung Yang, and Yul Soo Yoon will follow.
Laurel Kendall is Chair of the Division of Anthrology and Curator in Charge of Asian Ethnographic Collections at the American Museum of Natural History and president–elect of the Association for Asian Studies.