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Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life is a visual 1-0-1 of Buddhist doctrine; a reminder of our Karmic responsibility to remove ourselves from the world of suffering. In conjunction with the exhibition, Hero, Villain, Yeti: Tibet in Comics, eight contemporary artists have been invited to reinterpret segments of the Wheel of Life based on their own spiritual and artistic experiences in a three-part series: Karma-Con. Join the Rubin Museum of Art and the following comic artists and illustrators Molly Crabapple, Sanya Glisic, Ben Granoff, Rodney Greenblat, Steven Guarnaccia, Michael Kupperman, Josh Neufeld and Katie Skelly in taking a new perspective on this ancient religious image.


Part One: Artists on Art

Fridays, January - March at 6:15 p.m. | Free

See the Wheel of Life through the eyes of an artist. Join Assistant Curator Beth Citron, with artist and founder of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, Molly Crabapple, animation and storyboard artist, Ben Granoff, artist and Zen Buddhist, Rodney Greenblatt, cartoonist and illustrator, Michael Kupperman, illustrator and designer, Steven Guarnaccia, graphic novelist and cartoonist, Josh Neufield, and comic artist and illustrator, Katie Skelly, for a informal discussions and gallery tours. Hear how the artists emotionally and artistically interact with Buddhist art that inspires them.

Friday, January 6 at 6:15 p.m. – Rodney Greenblat

Friday, January 13 at 6:15 p.m. – Ben Granoff

Friday, February 10 at 6:15 p.m. – Steven Guarnaccia

Friday, February 17 at 6:15 p.m. – Katie Skelly

Friday, February 24 at 6:15 p.m. – Josh Neufeld

Friday, March 2 at 6:15 p.m. – Molly Crabapple

Friday, March 9 at 6:15 p.m. – Michael Kupperman

For more information on Artists on Art, please click here!


Part Two: Studio Salon

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. | Free

Enjoy an evening of comics and cocktails and watch the creative process in process! A coalescing of new and old - comic artists and illustrators take a modern view of the ancient Buddhist symbol, the Wheel of Life. Visit the museum to meet artists, Molly Crabapple, Ben Granoff, Josh Neufeld, Michael Kupperman, and Katie Skelly as they create initial sketches, sell and sign their work, and share their processes of creation in an open studio setting.


Part Three: Unveiling

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 7:00 p.m., | Free

Inspiration, discussion and creation. After interacting with the art that inspires them, discussing the significance and merit of the Wheel of Life as an artistic image, working collaboratively in an open studio setting and individually in their own studios, artists Molly Crabapple, Sanya Glisic, Ben Granoff, Rodney Greenblat, Steven Guarnaccia, Michael Kupperman, Josh Neufeld, and Katie Skelly unveil their completed works as a unified Wheel of Life.


The Wheel of Life: (bhavachakra, srid pa'i 'khor lo) acts as a representation of samsaric existence for Buddhist practitioners. The Wheel of Life is thought to have been drawn by Shakymuni Buddha himself, as a way to simply illustrate the six realms, interdependent existence and the sources of suffering.

Each artist has been given a different segment of the Wheel of Life to reinterpret:

Molly Crabapple

Sanya Glisic
Three Spiritual Poisons &
The Dark and Light Path

Ben Granoff
Lord of Death

Rodney Greenblat

Steven Guarnaccia
Hungry Ghosts

Michael Kupperman
Twelve Links of Dependent Origination

Josh Neufeld

Katie Skelly
Gods & Demigods

To decode the Wheel of Life, click here and view our education interactive!


About the Artists

Molly CrabappleMolly Crabapple's hyper-detailed compositions are something akin to a Where’s Waldo diptych—on a 7-day bender. If Dr. Seuss backtracked through the time-space continuum and commissioned Toulouse-Lautrec to reimagine his storybooks, the resulting mayhem would approximate Crabapple’s spiraling scenes of sex, ambition and artifice.

From her auto-didactical beginnings in a Parisian bookstore—where she cultivated her signature aesthetic by copying pages from A Tart’s Progress—Molly sketched her way through Morocco and Kurdistan…and once into a Turkish jail.

Spurred by a desire to de-sterilize the buttoned-up art school scene, Molly founded Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, a celebratory mash-up of cabaret and live drawing. Now in its 6th year—with branches in over a hundred cities—Dr. Sketchy’s global trajectory continues to accelerate. Molly’s brand of off-grid entrepreneurship caught the attention of major media outlets, securing cover stories and featured profiles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, Playboy, AP Wire, NPR, and hundreds of other media outlets around the world.


Sanya GlisicSanya Glisic is an illustrator and printmaker in Chicago, IL. She is originally from Bosnia. During her 2010 Artist Residency at Spudnik Press in Chicago, she illustrated, screenprinted and hand-bound an edition of books based on 19th century Heinrich Hoffmann's Der Struwwelpeter. Her illustrated adaptation of “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” will appear in the upcoming Vol 1 of Graphic Canon: The Definitive Anthology of the World's Great Literature as Comics and Visuals, published by Seven Stories Press. She has contributed artwork to several publications, including Lumpen Magazine, Newcity, as well as album art for Black Candy Records, and her work will be part of the upcoming BLACK EYE No.2, published by Rotland Press. Her prints and drawings have been included in the recent "Blaque Lyte" exhibition at Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago. She is currently working on a body of print work as Artist-in-Residence at Chicago Printmakers Collaborative. More of her work can be found at


Ben GranoffBen Granoff attended New York University where he was a Marvel Comics intern and racked up animation credits on Saturday Night Live and Adult Swim. His storyboard clients include Universal Pictures, SoBe and Columbia University. Ben has worked on various independent comics as an artist, writer, letterer, and editor. He writes about comics for venues like and the forthcoming Drawn Word and teaches comics classes to students in grades 3-8. His books include Clint and Rosebud: Those Freewheeling Tramps, We Were…The Freedom Federation and Dingleberry Blues.

Rodney GreenblatRodney Greenblat is an illustrator, sculptor, and character designer, celebrated for his whimsical and enriching artwork. His wacky colorful sculptures and paintings were an integral part of the ballooning East Village art scene of the 1980s, and he had several solo shows at the legendary Gracie Mansion Gallery. In 1985, his sculpture “Ark of Triumph” was featured in the Whitney Museum Biennial exhibition. Other projects include artistic contribution to Sony Playstation videogames and advertising and illustration for companies like Sony, Toyota, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. As a student of Roshi Enkyo O’Hara at Village Zendo Zen center, he has studied Buddhism and incorporated it into his art. He has received the Buddhist name “Musho” and continues to make joyous and expressive artwork.


Steven GuarnacciaSteven Guarnaccia is Associate Professor of Illustration and was director of the Illustration Program at Parsons The New School for Design for the last seven years. He was previously art director of the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. During his 30-year career as an internationally recognized illustrator he has illustrated for major magazines and newspapers, including The New York Times, Abitare, Rolling Stone and Domus, has created murals for Disney Cruise Lines, and exhibition drawings for a show of Achille Castiglione’s work at the Museum of Modern Art. He is the author of books on popular culture and design, including Black and White, a book on the absence of color, published by Chronicle Books and the author and illustrator of numerous children’s books. Guarnaccia has designed watches and packaging for Swatch, and greeting cards for the Museum of Modern Art. He has won awards from the AIGA, the Art Directors Club, and the Bologna Book Fair and has exhibited his work in one-man shows in the USA and Europe. His latest book is The Three Little Pigs, An Architectural Tale, published by Corraini Editore in Italy and Abrams in the US. 


Michael KuppermanMichael Kupperman lives and works in Brooklyn, where he is married and has a 3 year-old boy. His drawing and writing have appeared in locations ranging from The New Yorker to Saturday Night Live. His book of comics, Snake'N'Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret, appeared in 2000. An animated Snake'N'Bacon pilot with live-action segments was made for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, and is viewable online. He regularly produces the comic Tales Designed to Thrizzle for Fantagraphics, also in hardcover collected form, and his most recent book Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 was declared one of the year's best graphic novels by NPR, and one of the five best of the year by the Canadian National Post.


Josh NeufeldJosh Neufeld is a nonfiction cartoonist. He is the writer/artist of the New York Times-bestseller A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (Pantheon, 2009), a true story of seven survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Neufeld is the illustrator of the New York Times-bestseller The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media (W.W. Norton, 2011). He was awarded a publishing grant from the Xeric Foundation in 2004 for his first book, A Few Perfect Hours (and Other Stories from Southeast Asia & Central Europe). With writer Rob Walker, Neufeld is the co-creator of Titans of Finance: True Tales of Money and Business (Alternative Comics, 2001). Until Harvey Pekar’s death in 2010, Neufeld was a long-time artist for Pekar’s American Splendor. Neufeld’s works of comics journalism have been published by Cartoon Movement, SMITH Magazine, Les Subsistances,, Fortune Small Business, Green Magazine, and others. His illustrations have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.


Katie SkellyKatie Skelly lives and works in Astoria, New York. Her first graphic novel, Nurse Nurse, will be published by Sparkplug Books in April 2012. She holds a B.A. in Art History from Syracuse University. Her interests and studies include kinetic art, optical art, psychedelia and manga. To view more of Katie’s work, visit