Michael Koerner Photography

Serenity Series

Serenity Project - Summary
This photographic project is a personal exploration of the communication methods used to teach Buddhist principals and history through subtle gestures depicted in traditional Buddhist statuary. My personal photographic style of selective focus on specific image details conveys the subject’s message relating to the discipline and concentration needed to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Additionally, I’ve chosen the archival and historic methods of Platinum/Palladium printing techniques to fit the revered subject matter.

There are over 600 million practicing Buddhists worldwide. All, as defined by their ideological goal, are seeking “enlightenment” through clarity of thought and actions. The many and complex directives of reaching enlightenment have successfully filtered through many nations, cultures, and languages over the centuries. Because traditional Asian societies historically have suffered from low literacy rates, Buddhist teachings and history have been communicated through subtle gestures depicted in traditional Buddhist statuary.

Specific body positions and simple hand gestures, called Mudra, depicted in statuary convey historical context and remind viewers of deeply imbedded spiritual Taoist origins. One of the most important and popular deities in all of Asia is Kwan Yin (China – short for Kuan-shih Yin), or Kwannon (Japan), a mother-goddess of compassion and kindness. The literal Chinese translation for Kwan Yin is “the one who hears the cries of the world.” The interrelation between this cultural concept and the physical representation in statuary is so great that a statue of Kwan Yin can be found on the grounds of almost any major Buddhist temple. Even among non-devotional Chinese schools, Kwan Yin is still highly revered as the principal example of model behavior.

Through subtle details depicted in Buddhist statuary, centuries of cultural, historical and spiritual communication has been conveyed.

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