Explore the captivating paintings and sculptures of Nepalese-born Tibetan American artist Tsherin Sherpa. This thought-provoking, participatory art experience is presented in the form of a narrative telling a story of loss, struggle, and re-empowerment. Last seen at VMFA in the 2019 exhibition Awaken: A Tibetan Buddhist Journey Toward Enlightenment, Sherpa’s groundbreaking artwork continues to garner international acclaim. This focused mid-career retrospective is the global artist’s first solo museum exhibition.

Tsherin Sherpa’s works are grounded in the traditional Buddhist art of his training but stretch, bend, reconfigure, and repurpose its forms to explore contemporary concerns. The exhibition’s 36 paintings and sculptures trace the evolution of his “Spirits” series whose subjects resemble Tibetan Buddhist deities transformed by the modern world. Dislocated from their home—an experience familiar to the artist and communities all over the world—these figures move from grief and confusion, to courage and self-assurance, to triumph and wisdom. In their multiple manifestations, the Spirits reveal the power and endurance of transformation.


Exhibition Highlights

Spirits (Metamorphosis), 2019–20, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal 1968), acrylic and ink on canvas. Collection of Dolma Chonzom BhutiaSpirits (Metamorphosis), 2019–20, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal 1968), acrylic and ink on canvas. Collection of Dolma Chonzom Bhutia

Skipper (Kneedeep), 2019–20, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal 1968), acrylic and ink on fiberglass. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Eric and Jeanette Lipman FundSkipper (Kneedeep), 2019–20, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal 1968), acrylic and ink on fiberglass. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Eric and Jeanette Lipman Fund

3 Wise Men, 2019, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal, 1968), gold leaf, acrylic and ink on canvas. Collection of Seema Paul, California3 Wise Men, 2019, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal, 1968), gold leaf, acrylic and ink on canvas. Collection of Seema Paul, California.

Tara Gaga, 2016, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal 1968), gold leaf, acrylic, and ink on cotton. Private Collection of Nassib Abou-Khalil, Dubai, United Arab EmiratesTara Gaga, 2016, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal 1968), gold leaf, acrylic, and ink on cotton. Private Collection of Nassib Abou-Khalil, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Fly High, 2019, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal 1968), metal leaf, acrylic, and ink on canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Aldine S. Hartman Endowment Fund and Eric and Jeanette Lipman FundFly High, 2019, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal 1968), metal leaf, acrylic, and ink on canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Aldine S. Hartman Endowment Fund and Eric and Jeanette Lipman Fund

All Things Considered, 2014, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal, 1968),  gold leaf, acrylic, and ink on two  canvases. Elaine W. Ng and Fabio Rossi CollectionAll Things Considered, 2014, Tsherin Sherpa (American, born Nepal, 1968), gold leaf, acrylic, and ink on two canvases. Elaine W. Ng and Fabio Rossi Collection.


The exhibition is curated by Dr. John Henry Rice, VMFA’s E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art.


Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.


Altria Group Logo

Canvas at VMFA Fabergé Ball Endowment


The Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation


Anne Battle and Leonard Slater
Susan L. Buck in memory of Ed Chappell
Nancy and Wayne Chasen
Heather Daniel, Barrie McDowell, and Susan Russell
Birch Douglass
Arnel Manalo
Teri Craig Miles
Mr. Hubert G. Phipps
Jacquelyn Holley Pogue
Ms. Jennifer L. Schooley and Mr. William Bradley Burch


VMFA is also grateful to the following sponsors:

Nupa Agarwal, Esq. | Michael and Maura Bisceglia | Paula and Charles Collins | Philip and Kay Davidson | Mr. James W. Klaus | Deanna M. Maneker | Amy and Sean McGlynn | John McGurl and Michelle Gluck | Jaclyn Miller, Ph.D. | Mr. and Mrs. Stanley J. Olander, Jr. | Dr. and Mrs. Carl Patow | Reynolds Gallery | Dr. Bibhakar Sunder Shakya | SouthState Bank | Mr. and Mrs. John Stark |Shantaram and Sunita Talegaonkar | Stephen C. Thompson, Jr. and Jon McCue | Ting Xu and Evergreen Enterprises | A VMFA Supporter