Yuba College Art Professor Richard Murai exhibited his photographs of sacred sites throughout South East Asia and Tibet at the Davis Art Center’s Tsao Gallery November 1 through 22.
The exhibit, featuring large black and white photographs of Angkor Wat, Myanmar and Tibet, offered a window into another world, depicting architectural and archaeological wonders, Buddhist monks and locals. Murai photographed monasteries, temples, statues and individuals in worship and daily life. Each print offered deep dimension and detail, a rainbow of grays that intensified the contrast between light and shadows.
Murai’s documentation of sacred sites around the world stems from his interest in religion and experiencing diverse customs. “It’s very important that people understand different cultures and eliminate prejudice,” explained Murai. He hopes to illustrate a “oneness of the human spirit” by capturing images of the similarities of humanity across the globe.
Murai is also interested in comparing world civilizations within a historical timeline. For instance, he noted that a portion of Angkor Wat was constructed during the 12th Century and that roughly parallels the Gothic Period in Europe.
In addition to Southeast Asia and Tibet, Murai has photographed in China and Japan, Western Europe, Turkey, Egypt, and Peru. Within the next six months he plans to travel to Spain, Chile and Easter Island.
Originally from Berkeley, California, Murai currently lives in Penn Valley with his family. A product of California’s community colleges, Murai received Associate Degrees from Contra Costa College and Laney College in Oakland. He then earned his Masters and Bachelors Degree in Art at San Francisco State University. Before his arrival at Yuba College in 1978, he taught at community colleges and arts organizations throughout the Bay Area, including Ohlone and Chabot Colleges.
Murai has been published in Lenswork and Camera in April/May of 2003. He said he usually has exhibits every six to eight months and feels strongly that it’s important to practice what he teaches in the classroom.
Not only does it help him to evolve creatively and keep current with new technologies, but like other of the college’s fine arts activities, exhibiting his photographs helps Yuba College maintain a positive presence in the community. He has had exhibits at the Shasta County Arts Council, Redding, California, in 2005, at the Blue Space Gallery, Denver, Colorado, in 2005, and the Sacramento Valley Photographic Art Center, Sacramento, California, in 2004.