At the top of the escalators in the Asian Art Museum is a statue titled Dancing Ganesha. And, at the feet of this elephant-headed Remover of Obstacles is a small slot where you can pay tribute.
Pauline, who led the tour of would-be museum volunteers (of which I was one), explained that many people turned to Ganesha at those moments in their lives when big changes are on the horizon – new job, starting a family, moving. Wouldn’t you know it? I’m mired in one of those moments. Looking for a new place to live, remaking myself after the end of a relationship, becoming an Asian Art Museum volunteer. I’ll have to spend more time with this stunning, whimsical little Ganesha …
The tour of volunteers took us into staff-only areas like the inside of the coat check room (not so interesting) and through the collection (very, very interesting). I was particularly moved by the Korean celadon pieces – pale green lidded ewers.
Some other artifacts to mention: a beautiful example of Zen brushwork, part of the “Lords of Samurai” special exhibit – a large charcoal-colored O painted onto a scroll. The O, a docent told us, is a key symbol of enlightenment in Zen Buddhism as it represents both everything and nothing. A stunning raku bowl fired by the man who invented the process that is named after him. A room with statues of Buddha representing different visual interpretations of this central deity by various Asian cultures.
Over the years, I’ve tried to reconnect with my Korean-ness – taking language lessons, for instance. But I’ve never been too successful. I’m hoping that being at this museum, steeped in history and culture, will give me more chances to examine and understand that part of me. Maybe now with Ganesha’s help it will be more possible.