Ellen Bayard Weedon Lectures on the Arts of Asia

Thursday, October 6, 2022
5 pm | UVA Harrison Small Auditorium

Buddha, Shiva, Mudra: On Understanding the Development of Ananda Coomaraswamy

by Janice Leoshko, Associate Professor of South Asian Art, University of Texas, Austin

The transformational role of Ananda Coomaraswamy (1877-1947) in the study of South Asian culture has long drawn attention, but much about his development remains unclear. Especially not understood is how he turned to studying art and religion after he abandoned a promising scientific career. This lecture identifies his experiences in Sri Lanka where he worked as a geologist as the pivot, shaping the trajectory of his scholarly practice. The lecture also considers how the intertwined character of various influences upon him demonstrates that he was very much part of a larger world that sought a new order of things.

Janice Leoshko, PhD (The Ohio State University), 1987, teaches in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research has long focused on assumptions about the significance of artistic production at Bodhgayā, the Indian site where the Buddha achieved enlightenment (Sacred Traces: British Explorations of Buddhism in South Asia [Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003]). She also writes about the influence of museums and exhibitions, partly a result of time spent as a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Recent focus on Sri Lankan art has led to her current book project on the significance of the early writings of Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, which will be published by University of Chicago Press.