When she was exploring India’s Ajanta Caves in 2006, Amanda Giacomini didn’t know that the ancient murals and rock-carved Buddhist sculptures would eventually lead her on a quest to create thousands of Buddhas of her own.
“The caves were mind-blowing,” said Giacomini, an artist and yoga teacher from Point Reyes, California. “It seemed so completely radical that people had carved these caves by hand over hundreds of years. When I saw the scope in person, and realized how many artists and generations it must have taken, it inspired me to take on a [larger] project.”
More than ten years later, Giacomini is getting close to painting her ten thousandth Buddha. (At the time of this interview, her grand total was 9,629.) She has spray-painted large murals in U.S. cities, including Miami and Los Angeles, and internationally, in Germany and Panama. When she painted one in Washington, D.C., last year, a crew of Tibetan monks from New Jersey made an impromptu visit, chanting and holding a ceremony to infuse the mural with goodwill.
And there’s an added benefit: her murals, tagged with her @10000buddhas Instagram handle, are gaining traction on the street art scene and reaching those not on the Buddhist path.
“What I see [in people’s responses on social media] is an experience of peacefulness that is being transmitted through the Buddhas,” Giacomini said. “I always hope that when people walk past the walls on their commute or while they are exploring a new city, they pause for a moment and are reminded that there is another way of being in the world.”
Sign up for Tricycle’s newsletters
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.