LEWISTON — Lyceum Gallery will open “Buddhas and Malas” featuring the unique work of local artist Ray Michaud. The artist will be greeting visitors at an opening reception from 5-7 p.m. Friday, July 18.

Michaud studied Russian Orthodox iconography and icon writing (icon painting) under Lillian Engstrom, for several years. The symbolism of the colors and poses fascinated him.

“I almost immediately extended my studies to Buddhist iconography where colors, poses, and even hand gestures have profound significance. As a result, Buddhas of all the eastern philosophies, as well as the mudras or hand gestures of the Buddha, became subjects of my work,” said Michaud.

Using ancient statuary as models, Michaud’s color palette brings in pigments based on natural earth, and minerals are used to keep in tune with the icon painting traditions of the east. His Buddha paintings are in many private collections throughout Maine.

Michaud’s interest in malas arose from his yoga and meditation practice. A mala is a string of beads that is used to count breaths, as well as mantras or prayers to focus one’s meditation. The act of creating the mala became a meditation in itself for Michaud.

The 40 gemstone malas in the exhibit are made in either the traditional Zen or Tibetan bead layouts, each having 108 beads with one bead as the summit or head bead called a sumeru. The gemstones range from the traditional tiger eye and coral to the exotic like hemimorphite, ruby zoisite, and pyrite. Each mala comes with a card explaining the spiritual and medicinal qualities of the stones used, as well as a guide on the traditional uses and proper handling of the malas.

The exhibit will continue through August 15. Gallery hours are Saturday 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Friday 5-8 p.m. and by appointment. Lyceum Gallery is at 49 Lisbon Street. For more information, visit www.lyceumgallery.com, email [email protected], like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lyceumgallery or call 207-576-4805.

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