Shambhala Sun Home Free Gift with Order Current Issue Subscribe & Save Half Give a Gift Renew Current Text
spacer spacer spacer


spacer spacer

Bill Viola

Internationally recognized as one of today’s leading artists, Bill Viola says his videos and installations are "art for transformation, meant to serve for cultivating knowledge of how to be in the world, for going through life. It is useful for developing a deeper understanding, in a very personal, subjective, private way, of your own experience."

His videos are short, wordless displays of archetypal dream image, emotions, cycles of time, and phases of life and death, and can be found in major museums worldwide. We have used stills from his videos frequently in the magazine. The three stills shown here (from a video loop of several minutes duration) are from a diptych titled "Surrender," in a twenty-part series called "The Passions." In a November, 2004 interview in the Shambhala Sun, Viola said that after studying with a Zen teacher in Japan, "it began to sink in that perhaps art resided in life itself, that as a practice it derives primarily from the quality of experience, depth of thought, and devotion of the maker." To see his videos, go to

Lynn Davis

Traveling around the world to photograph natural and man-made monuments and sacred sites, Lynn Davis brings her negatives home and creates monumental black-and-white prints 40 inches square or larger, with subtle tones, often using gold or selenium. We have featured several portfolios of Davis’ work, and profiled her in our January, 2008 issue. Even on the small scale of a magazine page, her photos communicate the majesty, as well as the decay, of sacred sites such as the pyramids of Egypt, Chinese pagodas, and the ruins of Buddhist temples and monuments. Her photographs of natural phenomena such as icebergs, rivers, geysers, and waterfalls have the same stately beauty as the ancient architecture she photographs. A recent body of work is a series in color of both working and abandoned space stations in Florida, Kazakhstan, and French Guiana. Pictured here is "Iceberg #1, Disko Bay, Greenland 1986"; the full range of her work is on display at

Robert Spellman

Robert Spellman is a painter for whom mindfulness practice is "a central mode of inquiry," and his artistic and Buddhist paths have been continuously intertwined. A student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche since the late 1970s, Spellman was appointed director of a center for solitary meditation retreats in the remote, starkly beautiful Huerfano Valley of southern Colorado. He painted landscapes there and ran the center with his wife, artist Joan Anderson. Later he began teaching at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, serving as head of the visual arts department. His work glows with a humble, masterful exploration of form and color, from what he calls "a lifelong practice of looking, seeing, shaping, and honing." Spellman and Anderson are developing a retreat center for artists in the Huerfano valley on 240 acres of land they have purchased. Called Mountain Water, it will be a place for artists to practice both meditation and visual and verbal arts. Pictured here is "Pippens in a Blue Bowl"; for more, go to

Michael Newhall

Figures in meditation—the Buddha, monks, Zen students—are the central motif in Michael Newhall’s paintings and sculptures. A Zen priest in the lineage of Kobun Chino Roshi, he is the abbot of Jikoji, a Soto Zen temple and retreat center in Los Gatos, California. Newhall’s work derives directly from his experience as a meditation practitioner. His early figures were cartoons—ink drawings, and watercolor on paper. Later paintings included sumi-ink paintings on rice paper of monks’ heads, and luminous watercolor paintings like the one above. Currently he is making large oil paintings as well as computer-generated artworks. All take as their topic his deepening relationship with Buddhism. His style expresses vividly the excitement of the dharma coming to the West. Pictured here is "Buddhafield #3 Jikoji"; for more, see

Chögyam Trungpa photo by Liza Matthews

Originally published in the September 2009 Shambhala Sun magazine.


Why does the Shambhala Sun look like it does?

In a blogpost for Shambhala SunSpace, award-winning art director Liza Matthews takes you inside her process.

Art and Buddhism: A special section on

Richard Gere, Alex Grey, Leonard Cohen, k.d. lang, Alice Walker, bell hooks... all artists whose lives and work have been enriched by Buddhism. Come meet them (and more).

To order a trial subscription to Shambhala Sun,click here.


Subscribe | Current Issue | Search Archives | Contact Us | Spotlight | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Employment
© 2008 Shambhala Sun | Email: | Tel: 902.422.8404 | Published by Shambhala Sun Foundation