Students study in Japan thanks to Fellowship funding

By: Ayla Cline, Department of Near Eastern Studies, 
October 11, 2019

The Weiner Family Summer Fellowship, given in honor of Gelek Rimpoche, supports funding for summer experiential learning and research for an undergraduate student studying Buddhist practice in Asia. 

The 2019 award went to Stephanie Bell '20 and Carolyn Bell ’20, both History and Asian Studies majors. Their research interests took them to Japan: Stephanie studied practices related to public exhibition of Buddhist objects; and Carolyn explored how the incorporation of textiles into Buddhist practice has changed over time.

Stephanie focused her summer research on the transition many objects undergo between temple and museum settings. She spent her time in Japan at museums and temples, interviewing local artisans and attending artisan workshops. “Having compared temples and museums with regards to their storage and organization, conservation and replication, Buddhist art exhibition strategies, and the interactions they facilitate between visitors and Buddhist objects… I realized temples and museums in Japan are deeply intertwined,” Stephanie says.

Stephanie or CarolynPhoto provided by Stephanie and Carolyn Bell: Stephanie taking notes on miebutsugire tea ceremony textiles and Buddhist-object storage practices while visiting Ryugenji in Tokoyo.

Carolyn, interested in Buddhist textiles, conducted interviews with artisans and temple families, attended lectures on relics and exhibitions of temple objects at museums, and participated in workshops which taught her how to use katazome stencils to produce Edo-sarasa designs and how to dye with a type of indigo native to Japan. “I found myself enraptured by the threads connecting what had at first seemed distantly related topics of interest,” Carolyn says of her experience.

Stephanie and CarolynPhoto provided by Stephanie and Carolyn Bell: Stephanie and Carolyn conversing with a kesa (monks’ robes) weaver in Kyoto

Both Carolyn and Stephanie will continue to pursue their research interests during their senior year at Cornell and by completing honors theses in Asian Studies.

Stephanie and Carolyn with textile artist