Gender and sexuality are central to conversations our society is having today. When we see people, one of the first things we notice is gender and we tend to categorize people as male or female. But what if the characteristics we used to categorize were fluid and not rigidly defined? What if there were no gender distinctions? Non-binary and gender fluid depictions have existed in Asian art for thousands of years and the belief in non-duality contributes to these purposely ambivalent portrayals. Explore some of the fascinating ways various Asian cultures have represented people and deities as male, female, and non-binary. We’ll examine artworks from disparate cultures and periods to show how gender — whether fluid or fixed, divine or sensual, subversive or orthodox — is constructed and depicted in provocative and inspiring ways.
Mary Mead was born and raised in Japan, which instilled in her a love of the Far East – its diverse cultures, arts, and religions. After a start as a high school teacher, she spent 20 years in the telecommunications business, and then returned to teaching, this time at the university level. She taught world and comparative religions classes at various colleges and universities before retiring. Mary holds a PhD and five master’s Degrees. She has been a docent at the Asian Art Museum for ten years and serves on the Docent Council and the School Tours Committee, as well as being Chair of the Community Speakers Program.
The Asian Art Museumof San Francisco houses one of the most comprehensive Asian art collections in the world and graciously shares their beauty and history with the community through inspiring educational docent talks.
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