Lisa Lindberg - Early Autumn - 2000's

The Silk Road
The Power of Art and Spirituality in Human Experience

A commentary on the exhibit, "The Silk Road: Connecting Cultures, Creating Trust" --
the 2002 Smithsonian's Folk Life Festival on Washington, DC's National Mall

Thoughts about this Festival as conceptualized by the festival designers
 -- including Yo-Yo Ma and Rajeev Sethi
Scenographers -- 
and also of the life my family and I lived along this Silk Road on June 28, 2002

The Road to Murghab,Tajikistan


Festival Entry gates

Replica of Nara, Japan


The photos on this page are by Lisa Lindberg, Duncan Work, and Sealwyf: whose work includes all of the close-ups of the craftspeople.

Every year the Smithsonian's annual Folk Life Festival is held annually on the grounds of the National Mall between the National Capital Building and the Washington Monument. The format for this annual festival is for a national culture to be highlighted, plus also an area or culture within the United States. Local people are brought to Washington for this Festival to represent each specialty of their culture, i.e., crafts, music, dance, theater.

Attending to this festival has been an annual event for our family since1985 when our son, Matthew was 4.  That year, international event designer Rajeev Sethi Scenographers designed the India exhibition, and 17 years later, Sethi designed the entire 2002 Festival

This year's festival,
The Silk Road: Connecting Cultures, Creating Trust, was conceived in partnership with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project. The curators of this Festival conceived it as a "giant teach-in for people to keep open the boundaries between cultures, to keep on learning about and from each other, as an antidote to 9-11." and

For this Festival, Sethi envisioned a swath of the National Mall grounds as becoming the "Road" from China to Europe, with the grounds so esthetically transcendentally beautifully designed that when we first arrived in the morning, I took one overview look at it and burst into tears. Rajeev Sethi is such a brilliant artist. that being inside an artwork takes your breath away .......

.....  Imagine the scene: the cultures of the Silk Road majestically lying out at your feet.... the entire setting multi-sensorily evoking the epic, mythic, transcendent grandeur of ancient civilizations, ancient peoples, ancient long-ago and current cultures..... camel caravans ........ glorious cities .................... the desert....... .......mixing essences together in resplendent beauty.......



My general internal experience in life is that the transcendent is just the thinnest hairsbreadth away from my conscious mind, just sitting there waiting for an excuse to peek through. Meditation has always been a deliciously easy vehicle for these delicious peeks. And because pure consciousness is a very physical phenomenon for me -- something I feel with every cell of my body -- in addition to meditation as a vehicle for transcendence, also playing this role for me are nature, architecture, and the arts -- both performing and visual.

For example, one recent winter outside of New York City, my sister in law Mary took me to visit a Buddhist temple designed by I.M.Pei, designer also of DC's National Gallery of Art's East Wing. "Mary," I said, transfixed, "we are only walking along beside some blank wall outside this temple, but how this place makes me feel is really too much. This doesn't feel like America anymore, it feels like we have
left America and have gone to some remote place in China, and from some very long time ago that has nothing to do with the modern world of here and now."


Walking along The Silk Road also felt like that for me. As a connoisseur of architectural design, tensile structures, and fabric, the Silk Road Festival was pure floating blissful magic. Such a light, delicate sure hand hath designer Sethi. If I had had 100 rolls of film with me that day, I would have used up every single one.


The entire day walking among the 70,000 fellow Journeyers on the Silk Road, I felt like I was continually seeing people I knew (this happens to me sometimes). Upon looking closer at their intriguing faces, I realized I probably had never met them, but I went around with this feeling of being so connected to all of humanity. I think this is one of the things this festival was supposed to evoke/invoke. 

Actually, running into people we know in big crowds in public spaces was seems to have become a standard with us -- finding people from various parts of the world after years of separation.  This event was no exception -- but remarkable because of being such a melee of tens of thousands of people -- and we ran into half a dozen people we knew, some we hadn't seen for decades, and hadn't known well, but recognized anyway, and talked with. 


At one time, we met up with two of our friends from Sugarloaf Country outside of DC who told me they had just been talking about me -- saying this Festival struck them as being in the same spirit of design, drama, music, and dance as I design for the Seasonal Celebrations on Sugarloaf Mountain. (As you can imagine, even being spoken of in the same breath as someone like Sethi is quite gratifying.)


It was fitting that that earlier in the morning we walked on The Silk Road,
Duncan had a meeting meeting was with an Indian programming company, where he participated in a conference call to India to make a presentation to the staff there.  When Duncan was done with that meeting, he walked over to the Silk Road, and -- assisted by our personal communication devices, found us in line at the Indian food place, talking with some friends we had run into.

I knew just where we should take our food and each lunch, and we did: in the Family Oasis. Oooooooooo I would love to make outdoor settings like this to work in the Summertime. There we sat eating delicious Indian food, sitting among all these gorgeously painted gorgeous tents.....with rugs on the ground, lovely fabric everywhere, fabric hanging from fabric.... looms, printing, pottery-making, jewelry-making, fabric-wrapped metal poles wrapped ..... so beautiful I could barely stand it ............ ............................

The Family Oasis


 At the Family Oasis:  
From left:  Duncan & Matthew -- leaning and seated.  Lisa, in yellow & red


In the Sufi religious music and dance performance:  leaning back against a tent pole to close my eyes...  listening, watching, transcending.... .feeling I was basking in this sweet, all-enveloping cloud of warmth and love and caring. .....

Replicas of the thousands-of-years old Afghanistani Bamiyan Buddhas --
the actuals of which were recently destroyed by the culturally intolerant Afghan Taliban
From left:  from a distance.  Then close-up.

And then, in another performance tent, was the tantric chanting of the Gyuto monks from the Tibetan Himalayas

Oh, my god, what an experience........

After a little while of listening to them, Duncan and Matthew left that performance tent to go somewhere else, but I wanted to stay -- I had no choice because of what was happening to me there. Music is always a lovely transcendence vehicle for me: One time at St Patricks in New York City at Christmas, an organ recital took me straight to heaven and I didn't want to come back to Earth and go outside with the rest of the people I was with that day, who were about to keep on walking up 5th Avenue. 

I was at the performance tent at the Folk Life Festival with the Tibetan monks, but in listening to them, I closed my eyes and was immediately transported to the edges of consciousness, to the edges of the universe. In my mind, their voices stopped sounding like bullfrogs, and instead started sounding like angels, angels singing the universe coming into being. Similarly to what happens when I listen in person to pundits chanting the Vedas, I couldn't sit up anymore, but not wanting to lie down right there in the dirt, instead I leaned forward on my backpack for support and for dear life -- I was feeling like I was falling off the edge of the world.


When the monks' set was finished, everyone was extremely appreciative, and clapped a long time, then filed out of the tent. "But how can they even walk ?!" I asked myself, incredulous. (I decided they could stand up and walk because they hadn't been closing their eyes like I had been.) 

When I eventually got it together and was able to stand up, I walked over to the line of people waiting to talk to the (very scholarly, perfect-English-speaking) Tibetan monk who had introduced each segment of the monks' set. I was the last in line, and when it came my turn, I said to him, "When your friends did their chanting, I closed my eyes and they took me immediately to the transcendent, to pure consciousness, to the outer reaches of the universe. I think they are bullfrog angels." 

He smiled, put his palms together, closed his eyes, and bowed to me. I did the same back to him.

The Silk Road: Connecting Cultures, Creating Trust" -- of such is the power of art and spirituality in human experience.



Lisa Lindberg - Early Autumn - 2000's