Cynthia Moku paints in contemporary and traditional formats.
She has been painting and drawing images of buddhas and historical figures within the tradition of Himalayan Vajrayana Buddhism for more than forty years. In the late 1960’s as a college student in San Francisco, Cynthia trained in western painting and drawing disciplines; technique, theory and commercial design. During this culturally proactive, politically revolutionary and spiritually stimulating time, the specific techniques and scope of knowledge held by this Eastern art form of the Himalayan Buddhist cultures, captured her attention. Inspired and directed by the great meditation master and yogin of the twentieth century, Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche (1905-1989), she began a lifelong personal journey into the art of thangka painting (scroll painting, Tib.)
Her work has been commissioned by both Tibetan and American spiritual teachers. A seminal painting of Chagdrukpa, the Protector Mahakala, is part of the Denver Art Museum’s permanent collection of traditional Buddhist Art. The piece was blessed in a public gathering hosting Tibetan refugees at Regis University, by HH Tendzin Gyatso the XIV Dalai Lama. She has designed and painted murals for Buddhist temples in the western United States and north central India. This includes the murals inside the Sante Fe, El Rito/Questa, and Shambhala Mountain Center stupas. Each of these monumental public architectures, have been constructed along the longitudinal vertebral-column of the Rocky Mountain chain.
Appointed as “Artist to the Kalapa Court,” Cynthia paints Shambhala Buddhist iconography for the Sakyong Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, spiritual leader and lineage holder of the international Shambhala community. These seminal works include: the Primordial Rigden thangkas I & II, the Shiwa Okar thangka, the Imperial Rigden thangka and the Yeshe Tsogyal banner. Cynthia is currently completing a thangka painting of the magnetizing wisdom-dakini, Kurukulle.
Cynthia has served as a faculty member at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, since 1989. During the early 1990’s, she designed and launched the University’s Bachelor of Arts Degree Program in the Visual Arts, serving as Chair of the Visual Arts Department for the first three of its formative years. She has taught in collaboration within programs of mindfulness meditation and contemplative art disciplines, both in the United States and Europe.
Since 2000, Cynthia has focused her teaching in the arts through a progression of reflective brush exercises named Indelible Presence.See more about these retreats here: Streams/Teaching Retreats/Image Map. These brush practices are an integral part of the retreat experience.
Cynthia’s contemporary ink-art paintings reflect her unique and singular training in Japanese calligraphy with two great Japanese Brush Masters, Eiichi Okamoto Sensei and the Zen master, Kobun Chino Otogawa Roshi (1938-2002).
A four-part article
REALIZING CONFIDENCE: The Making of the Primordial Rigden Thangka