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Ariana Maki

Associate Director of the UVA Tibet Center and Bhutan Initiative

I am an art historian focused on Buddhist art and architecture. As instructor in both art history and religious studies departments at UVA, and in my previous appointment at the University of Colorado Boulder, my courses have spanned the breadth of Asia and incorporate multidisciplinary approaches.

My research addresses the development of Bhutanese art, in particular analyzing literature and the material record to trace historical artists and workshops active in the 17th-19th centuries, which was a critical phase of national consolidation. More broadly, my research interests lie in the intersections of art, text, and ritual, and the ways in which iconography can contribute to understanding of the transmission, adoption, and adaptation of Buddhist practices.

In my role at the Tibet Center, I work closely with Himalayan communities, particularly in Bhutan and Tibetan areas of China, to support the creation of and access to resources that deepen understanding of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, some of which is critically endangered. These and related projects provide capacity-building training to Himalayan populations which they can choose to apply toward entrepreneurial endeavors and cultural documentation initiatives. As the main point of contact for these initiatives, I am responsible for Tibet Center work as we acquire and process materials donated by scholars, traditional knowledge holders, ritual specialists, and researchers from both within and outside the region.

Tibet Center’s deep dedication to open access is something I share, and I am pleased to have been a part of a multi-year collaboration with the Loden Foundation to produce the Bhutan Cultural Library, supported by the Arcadia Fund. I have also contributed to the Ronald M. and Dianne J. Bernier Archive at CU Boulder’s Visual Resources Center.

Along with Kurtis Schaeffer (UVA) and Andrew Quintman (Wesleyan), I co-direct the Life of the Buddha, an interdisciplinary digital humanities resource that provides tools to understand the relationships between image, literature, and architecture through a 17th century monastery, Takten Puntsokling in central Tibet.