Clark Art Lecture on Buddha Sculpture

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — On Tuesday, April 2 at 5:30 pm, the Clark Art Institute's Research and Academic Program presents a lecture by Cynthea J. Bogel (Kyushu University / Clark Fellow). 
 
Bogel explores motifs on the pedestal of a key eighth-century sculpture: a colossal gilt-bronze Buddha (Nara period, 710–784) and the main icon of the temple Yakushiji. The talk takes place in the Clark's auditorium, located in the Manton Research Center.
 
According to a press release:
 
Scholars interpret the pedestal motifs as a pastiche of Sinitic symbols inconsistent with Buddhist representation. Bogel understands the pedestals of important seventh and early-eighth century icons as presenting motif programs, which she names "cosmoscapes" and demonstrates that the pedestals in tandem with the icons represent complex belief systems and cosmologies experienced as concomitant with Buddhist praxis. The Yakushiji pedestal, like the contemporaneous 720 Nihon shoki (a "national history"), reifies and perpetuates the imaginaire of a Sino-style imperial realm using symbols of a Sinic imperium juxtaposed with its antithetic barbarian subjects. Through fresh interpretations, Bogel situates these icons as unedited and overlooked evidence for beliefs and ideologies during a decisive period of Japanese history.
 
Cynthea J. Bogel was professor of Japanese art and Buddhist visual culture in East Asia at Kyushu University (Japan) from 2012–2023 and associate professor at the University of Washington from 1999–2012. She was director of the International Research Center for the Humanities at Kyushu University and founded the peer-reviewed Journal of Asian Humanities at Kyushu University, serving as its chief editor until 2023. At the Clark, she will continue writing a book on cosmologies and Buddhist icons in ancient Japan.
 
Free. Accessible seats available; for information, call 413 458 0524. A reception at 5 pm in the Manton Research Center reading room precedes the event. 

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Summer Street Residents Make Case to Williamstown Planning Board

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Neighbors of a proposed subdivision off Summer Street last week asked the Planning Board to take a critical look at the project, which the residents say is out of scale to the neighborhood.
 
Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity was at Town Hall last Tuesday to present to the planners a preliminary plan to build five houses on a 1.75 acre lot currently owned by town's Affordable Housing Trust.
 
The subdivision includes the construction of a road from Summer Street onto the property to provide access to five new building lots of about a quarter-acre apiece.
 
Several residents addressed the board from the floor of the meeting to share their objections to the proposed subdivision.
 
"I support the mission of Habitat," Summer Street resident Christopher Bolton told the board. "There's been a lot of concern in the neighborhood. We had a neighborhood meeting [Monday] night, and about half the houses were represented.
 
"I'm impressed with the generosity of my neighbors wanting to contribute to help with the housing crisis in the town and enthusiastic about a Habitat house on that property or maybe two or even three, if that's the plan. … What I've heard is a lot of concern in the neighborhood about the scale of the development, that in a very small neighborhood of 23 houses, five houses, close together on a plot like this will change the character of the neighborhood dramatically."
 
Last week's presentation from NBHFH was just the beginning of a process that ultimately would include a definitive subdivision plan for an up or down vote from the board.
 
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