Light Exists because of Love - Part III of IV

A blog series on the impact of Loretta H. Yang's Guanyin artwork

Updated: October 08, 2015

Part III: The Wish of a Lifetime

May the moment come when I attain enlightenment, the body, even the soul, become as ‘liuli’—pure, transparent, flawless.

-Medicine Budda Sutra

It is important to remember that, as dealers or purchasers, the value we exchange for a work of art is a byproduct. Before a piece enters the market, it is nothing more than an idea. It is a thought, or state of mind. At the end of its commercial lifespan—when it enters a home—it resumes its spirit, and breathes once more through new eyes.

Enter the LIULI studio; inside Loretta H. Yang’s mind, which, one could postulate, was reborn in 1996 on a personal pilgrimage to the Mogao grottoes of Dunhuang, Western China. For millennia, the oasis of Dunhuang was a major stop on the Silk Road, making it a sponge for centuries of culture & art from across all Eurasia. Over time, the grottoes of Dunhuang earned the sobriquet “Caves of the Thousand Buddhas.” But for Yang, it was the Buddha with a thousand hands that stole her heart.

As mentioned in the first installment of this series, “bodhisattvas” are enlightened people of Earth, turned into beings who wish to help others out of compassion. The bodhisattva “Guanyin” is often depicted in art with hundreds of hands and eyes so that her love may reach all the souls in the world. So when Yang entered the third grotto in Dunhuang and chanced upon this deity, it was a fresco from the Yuan Dynasty, its fading veneer already on the path to forgotten history. Still, when looking into something carrying with it the weight of centuries of hope, dreams and love one cannot help but to be profoundly moved.

Moved enough to vow devoting one’s entire life to a work of art.

For years after her encounter with Guanyin, Yang worked and reworked statues embodying the idea that compassion and love are forces that can be extended to all life on Earth. But it was actually during the pursuit of this truth that Yang learned her greatest lessons.

If we assume that the spirit of a work of art begins with the artist, then for Loretta H. Yang, that spirit is born from the creation of her life’s greatest wish—“Only with Compassion” (the Thousand-hand, Thousand-eye Buddha). It is a lesson showing that Guanyin’s love and compassion do not simply come from ancient artworks and stories; rather, that love is birthed from inside us out of a devotion to life.


(To Be Continued…)

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