Aspenite’s Tibetan travels inspire exhibit |

Aspenite’s Tibetan travels inspire exhibit

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” While Aspen prepares to be inspired by this week’s appearance by the Dalai Lama, at least one local resident has long found inspiration in the exiled leader’s homeland.

The proof is hanging in the Paepcke gallery at The Aspen Institute, the organization behind Saturday’s sold-out talk by Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

French native Catherine Cussaguet, who has called Aspen home for nearly 16 years, periodically heads to the Himalaya during Aspen’s offseasons, where she seeks the roads less traveled.

“I like to go to high and remote places. I like to go off the beaten path,” Cussaguet explained.

There, she finds locals who have little, but invite strangers into their tent for a cup of tea nonetheless.

Photographs from her 2006 trip to Tibet form the Paepcke exhibit, Tibet: A Journey from Lhasa to Mount Kailash, which opened this week to coincide with the visit from His Holiness.

Cussaguet’s journey, a 25-day and 2,300-mile excursion over mostly dirt roads, culminated with a kora, or pilgrimage in the Buddhist tradition, around Mount Kailash, a site considered sacred for Buddhists and Hindi, she explained. The pilgrimage took her on a 35-mile hike and over an 18,500-foot pass.

Her travels have been the focus of previous slideshow/talks at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and the Aspen Club and Spa, as well as a photographic exhibit at the Aspen Chapel Gallery.

In her latest exhibit, limted-edition prints ” 12 per photograph ” are available for sale. The net proceeds will go to the American Himalayan Foundation, a nonprofit that supports education, health care, cultural and environmental preservation throughout the region.

Still, the Aspen Club and Spa pilates instructor doesn’t consider herself a professional photographer.

“I am, what can I say, a passionate traveler,” Cussaguet said.

Her photographs will be on display, and available for purchase, through Sept. 12.

The Dalai Lama will speak Saturday at Aspen’s Benedict Music Tent as part of a three-day summer symposium celebrating Tibetan and Himalayan culture. The institute and the Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture are sponsoring the event, which starts Thursday.

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