Topic: College of Fine Arts

December 6, 2007

The Ball State University Museum of Art will unveil new, impressive Japanese art exhibits, starting Dec. 14. The exhibits, which are free and open to the public, will run through March 16.

A massive bronze sculpture of Amida Buddha will be exhibited contemplatively in a gallery by itself.  Representing an important Eastern deity who personifies eternal life, compassio, and boundless light, the Amida Buddha was cast in 1680 and is nearly 6 feet tall, which suggests that it was made for a major religious shrine. The sculpture is on loan from museum benefactor David T. Owsley.

Peter Blume, director of the art museum, said that this sculpture is the first important piece of Japanese religious art obtained by the museum.

The majestic Buddha will complement more modern woodblock prints and ornate metalwork from its homeland in the exhibition Japanese Art from the Floating World.

The Floating World refers to the escapist lifestyle embraced by the rich merchant class during the Edo Period (1602 to 1872). It is an art form closely connected to theater, teahouse and geisha and representative of a society fascinated with celebrity.

Works in the show will contrast the Buddha's deep serenity with vibrant images of popular and commercial Japanese culture — beautiful women, courtesans, Kabuki theater and military scenes — of the late Edo period through the Meiji Restoration, Taishō period and into the Shōwa period from 1800 through the early 20th century. Intricate prints, a samurai suit of armor, a pair of iron stirrups, decorative sword guards (tsuba) and personal medicine/snuff containers (inro), and other items are part of the museum's collection, many acquired in the past three years.

For more information, contact the art museum at 765-285-5270 or visit

By Jennifer Regnier