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The Art of Precision and Reach
- When April 21
to 7:30 p.m.
- Who Jane Lillian Vance
Artist and Instructor, Department of Religion and Culture, Virginia Tech
- Where Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Atrium
2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke, VA 24016
- Who Jane Lillian Vance
Join us for the opening reception of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s latest community offering, The Art of Precision and Reach. This exhibition, curated by artist Jane Lillian Vance, investigates the synaptic space between art and science. Witness dozens of artists using a range of mediums to astound us with the creativity, humanity, and grace found in that interstice.
When I was asked to curate a show for Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, I wanted to build a bridge. I wanted to celebrate a hybrid territory where medical practitioners and artists are fundamentally related, equally useful, equally precise, and equally relevant to their shared community.
Medicine is built on measurement. It is the science of karma, of cause and effect. One trains in this discipline to be reasonable, logical, and objective, and yet healing also requires trust and faith. At the confluence of knowledge and compassion, medicine is most precise.
When is art precise? When is art detective, investigative, diagnostic?
Detailed art can be fascinated by the microscopic, by theoretical physics, enraptured by the dance between light and form. While some artists brace and hold their breath in the presence of math and science, others revel in the coincidence and occurrence of Fibonacci spiral equations in sunflower heads and in the fractal distribution of tree species in a forest. Artists divine inspiration from systems, relationships, proportions, colors, chemistry, precision.
Five hundred years ago, in 1487, Leonardo da Vinci drew his Vitruvian man, the ideally proportioned body within a circle within a square, the compass point in his navel. Leonardo's artistic precision was motivated by his belief that in seeing the architecture of the human body, the precision of God is revealed. Surprisingly, in 2011, Hutan Ashrafian, a lecturer of surgery at Imperial College London, diagnosed Leonardo's 500-year-old Vitruvian sketch as having a hernia. Later, Peter Hallowell, Director of Bariatric Surgery at the University of Virginia, argued convincingly that Leonardo's Vitruvian man may have died from complications of this inguinal hernia.
This intense, current, and nuanced dialogue between physicians and artists across the centuries illustrates brilliantly the impact of Precision and the breadth of Reach that art creates.
Reach means relevance and breadth, humanitarian, medical, and spiritual; and relevance is urgent when humanity and planet are suffering from the legion jaws of disease, poverty, ignorance and violence.
We have not yet as a species reached the state of grace which the Tibetans call prajnaparamita, the perfect blend of wisdom and compassion. We would know we had achieved this earthly paradise if we all steadily practiced what the Dalai Lama continues to teach: tolerance, kindness, and the practical logic, let alone the empathy, of doing service.
As you respond to this call for art inspired by Precision and Reach, produce lavish, bold, gorgeous images. Investigate the synaptic space between art and science. Astound us with the creativity and grace found therein.
I am deeply interested in joyful mingling and bonding on the bridge joining medical practitioners, scientists, and artists. This membrane between disciplines is the place where receptors for synthesis abound. It's a realm the Art World has sometimes failed to embrace.
The vitality and function of the Art World has languished with its attention on the verbal, the abstract, and the cleverly conceptual. I prefer to promote beauty, surgical skill, and craftsmanship from the practitioner's hands, surgeon or artist. With this exhibit, let's showcase unapologetically breathtaking images. It's time now to forge the improbable union of skill and beauty.
More than ever, Precision and Reach for scientists and artists needs to mean that our work conjures grace, finding the underserved, hearing the unattended, remembering the forgotten, and listening to the wounded. Injury does not mandate fragility. Injury, imperfection beckons survival, platelet aggregates, antibodies, and resilience.
The Art of Precision and Reach celebrates multi-faceted diversity, and embraces the transcendent results of collaboration. Art has work to do in educating us about community and categories. What stories have not been told? What subtleties have we overlooked? What ingredients of benefit, what astonishing capabilities, intriguing rituals, what healing is unseen?
The Art of Precision and Reach is inherently narrative. Astonish us with discoveries of great potential, unique contributions, stamina, and aspiration. Focus your intention. Polish your lens. Look from a new vantage point. The impossible is always present, accessible, hidden in plain sight, waiting to be discovered.
Jane Lillian Vance
About the Curator
For 30 years Jane Lillian Vance’s highly narrative and studiously detailed paintings have been concerned with bridging the space between East and West. The Dalai Lama’s favorite poet, Shantideva, wrote in the 8th century classic Heart Sutra: “May I be a boat, a bridge, a lamp for those desiring the further shore.” In many ways, Vance’s work offers passage—into luxurious naturalist detail, as well as into severe and magnificent contemporary landscapes around the world.
Vance is internationally known for creating oil paintings with brilliant detail and vivid, painstaking iconography, from Tibetan Buddhism and the folk arts of the Himalayas, as well as from rural Zambia, in her current Africa Series, about medicine and hope. Her paintings are housed in private collections on four continents. Widely recognized for her knowledge and understanding of Tibetan and Nepali culture, Vance is a frequent lecturer and keynote speaker on the subject.
For many years, before public notice, Vance worked constantly on her elaborate, increasingly Tibetan-focused oil paintings, until internationally acclaimed art critic Suzi Gablik visited Vance and began their great friendship, writing about Vance in Satish Kumar’s Resurgence magazine, and in "Images of Earth and Spirit," an English anthology of spiritual contemporary art.
In the winter of 2000, accompanied by her friend Amchi Tsampa Ngawang Lama and videographer Jenna Swann, Vance crossed an 18,000-foot Himalayan pass in a snowstorm during a month-long trek in Nepal’s Annapurna region. It was during this trek with Amchi Tsampa that he and Vance planned the Buddhist lama’s first visit to America, where he would later live for six months at Vance’s home, studying and teaching together in Blacksburg, Virginia. During these months the Buddhist lama initiated Vance to begin his lineage portrait. With film producer Tom Landon joining videographer Jenna Swann, the journey of the Amchi painting would become the internationally acclaimed and award-winning documentary, A Gift for the Village.
In 2007, the festival for A Gift for the Village drew national and international attention, with Nepal’s media writing about Vance and her long-standing appreciation of Nepal and its people. The King of Lo, former Raja Jigme Parwar Bista, personally thanked Vance for the gift of the painting, which Amchi Tsampa described to the King as “the jewel of Mustang.”
Vance attended the College of William and Mary, Exeter University in Devon, England, and Virginia Tech. She teaches The Creative Process through the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech.