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Printmaking Helps Visual Arts Grad Student Heal From Traumatic Events

Printmaking Helps Visual Arts Grad Student Heal From Traumatic Events

Kabi Lama’s ink drawing and mixed media work “Manjushree Hand & Sword” is a bold and chaotic depiction of the creation of Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley, inspired by Buddhist scripture. As the story goes, Lama says, the deity slashed through the mountains with his flaming sword, opening a gorge that drains a great lake and allowing a new habitat to emerge.

Lama’s artwork is influenced by what he calls the “mystical interplay between destruction and construction,” two opposites he is intimately familiar with as the survivor of two devastating natural phenomena. In 2011, studying printmaking in Japan, Lama experienced the tsunami that claimed the lives of over 18,000 people. Then, in 2015, after returning home to Nepal, Lama lived through the earthquake that struck near Kathmandu, in which 9,000 people perished.

Kabi Lama standing near his work in the president's suitAfter these disasters, Lama refocused his artmaking as a medium for healing and a means to soften traumatic memories of the events. As a printmaker, Lama finds he can temper those haunting thoughts through the process of lithography in particular.

“It allows me to draw freely, and when I draw on stone and print on paper, it’s always a memory on the plate,” says Lama, who will graduate from Mason Gross School of the Arts this May with an MFA in visual art. “Printmaking has great potential on transferring memory and reality. The whole process of plate making and the excitement of pulling the print is a healing process that I enjoy a lot.”

Lama’s work now hangs in the office suite of President Jonathan Holloway at Winants Hall, along with work by art and design BFA seniors Beatryz Mendes and Henry Wang. All three students were honored at a reception on February 21, where they had a chance to speak about their work and meet with President Holloway.

Read more at Rutgers Today.

Top image: (l. to r.) President Jonathan Holloway, Beatryz Mendes BFA ’24, Kabi Lama MFA ’24, and Henry Wang BFA ’24. Nick Romanenko/Rutgers University