What do Rogers Park, Bridgeport, Albany Park, Uptown, Pilsen, and the Lakefront trail all have in common? These Chicago neighborhoods and running path feature fiberglass and cement Buddha heads as part of a Chicago-wide art exhibit called Ten Thousand Ripples.
Beginning in 2012, the original artist Indira Johnson partnered with educational arts nonprofit organization Changing Worlds and installed 100 of these sculptures all around the city in an attempt to promote. But has it actually achieved this goal?
The original idea of this project was to use Buddha as a symbol of peace. Sculptures were installed in various Chicago neighborhoods to inspire the inhabitants to foster discussion about nonviolence. As the project grew, more heads were installed in popular areas, and last July, Loyola’s own Museum of Art featured the heads as an exhibit (where several of them were sold to cover the project costs).
There’s no evidence to suggest these Buddha heads actually inspired peace, but they have started a discussion. While many people thought the sculptures brightened their neighborhood, some people have accused these heads of cultural appropriation, saying that by taking Buddha’s teachings and reducing them to the singular idea of peace, the project disrespects Buddhism as a whole.
What do you think? Is using Buddha’s head in a secular art exhibit disrespectful or does it inspire peace?
Before you make your decision, you can find a Buddha on the corner of Loyola Avenue and Sheridan across from the Loyola ‘L’ stop. Send us your picture of it and tell us what you think!
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