Curator Foong Ping Invites You to Look Again

“I looked really carefully at the object; I found a Chinese character that nobody has noticed before.”

– Foong Ping, Foster Foundation Curator of American Art

Look Again is a new series that joins curator Foong Ping as she uncovers mysteries and celebrates hidden details of beloved works in SAM’s collection.

In the above video, Foong gets you up close with the Dragon Tamer Luohan, a dynamic 14th–century wood statue that has been in the museum’s collection since 1936. The sculpture is now on view in the “Bringing Blessings” gallery of Boundless: Stories of Asian Art at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. In this exhibition, works across cultures and time periods tell diverse stories of Asia in a series of thematic galleries.

According to Chinese Buddhism, Luohans (also known as Arhats) are the original disciples of the Buddha. They are enlightened beings with distinctive pursuits and supernatural powers. In this video, Foong discusses her discovery of a Chinese character on the sculpture that no one had noticed before. The character identifies this Luohan as a tamer of dragons—a creature long associated with life-giving, spring rains. Ping also notes her favorite part: His gritted teeth as he summons the dragon from the heavens with a powerful hiss.

And don’t miss the first edition of Look Again, in which Foong introduces you to the nearly 1,000 pound, earthquake-proof Buddha statue—with tiny elegant feet—that stands in the Alvord Park Lobby and gazes out upon the surrounding Volunteer Park.

Stay tuned for more art discoveries with Foong Ping in future episodes to come!

– Rachel Eggers, SAM Associate Director of Public Relations