Forbes on Pinaree Sanpitak’s sculpture, a beautiful reflection on Shaker culture

30 Jul 2022

A Spirit of Gift, A Place of Sharing is an exhibition organized at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA that interconnects the contemporary art scene of Asia with Shaker material culture. The absurd yet harmonized union stems from the solemn appreciation for craftsmanship integrated with spirituality. Pinaree Sanpitak, one of the leading and most respected feminist artists in Southeast Asia, was invited to respond to the natural and architectural setting of the serene village and to collaborate with the local community.

In this exhibition, Sanpitak presents Breast Stupa Topiary, three sculptures welded to resemble a stupa, a sacred hemispherical structure intended to contain the Buddha’s relics and to be used as a place of meditation. The trellis-like sculptures serve as a foundation for the flourishing Berkshire and Thai herbs and vegetables. The collaboration between the Village’s chef Josh Kelly and Sanpitak incorporates the aforementioned herbs and vegetables into the menu in a project titled, Hancock Breast Stupa Cookery. Additionally, her series of handmade paper sculptures are displayed sporadically in the kitchen to mingle with Shaker utensils as a symbol of nourishment propagating throughout this intimate space of sensory engagement.

“Shakers believed in a biocentric universe where all creation were united as one,” Hancock Shaker Village curator, Linda Johnson informed Forbes. “Stupas reflect Pinaree’s work that reflects the female body honouring the feminine attributes in Shaker labor and service.”

Breast Stupa Topiary will be displayed at one of the gardens of Hancock Shaker Village until 14 November 2022.

Image: installation view of Pinaree Sanpitak, Breast Stupa Topiary, 2022 | Photography by Marc Freedman