Sherry Fowler

Professor, Japanese Art
Primary office:
200-A Spencer Museum of Art


Sherry Fowler specializes in Japanese Buddhist art. Her interests include pre-modern sculpture, Edo and Meiji period Japanese temple prints (keidaizu), pilgrimage prints (ofuda), foreign interactions with Japanese art, issues of collecting, and ritual. She has written on the development of the imagery of the cult of the Six Kannon in Japan and Buddhist prints in the pilgrimage process. Her recent research project is on the relationship between dragons, water, and Buddhist temple bells in Japan.


1995 Ph.D., Art History, University of California, Los Angeles
1989 M.A., Art History, University of Washington
1992-93, 1986-89 Research Fellow, Kyoto University, Department of Aesthetics and Art History
1979 B.A., Art History, California State University, Long Beach

Professional Experience

2016-present Professor, University of Kansas
2004-2016 Associate Professor, University of Kansas
2000-2004 Assistant Professor, University of Kansas
1995-2000 Assistant Professor, Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon

Selected Publications

“The Literary and Legendary Lives of the Onoe Bell: A Korean Celebrity in Japan.” Archives of Asian Art 71, no. 1 (2021): 37–61.

“Kinen no shūgōtai: Saigoku junrei no Kannon no mokuhan Kannon fuda no kakejiku.” [Japanese: 273–317; 370–379] / "Collective Commemoration: Kannon Print Scrolls from the Saigoku Pilgrimage" [English: 319–379]. In Nihon bukkyō no tenkai to sono zōkei [Medieval Japanese Buddhist Practices and Their Visual Art Expressions], ed. Michimoto Tesshin. Kyoto: Hōzōkan, 2020.

“Drawing Embodied: Ed Hardy’s East Asian Art Connections” (with Dale Slusser). In Ed Hardy: Deeper than Skin: Art of the New Tattoo, ed. Karin Breuer, 24–35. San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2019.

“Connecting Kannon to Women Through Print.” In Women, Rites, and Ritual Objects in Premodern Japan. Karen Gerhart, ed. Leiden: Brill Publishing, 2018.

Accounts and Images of Six Kannon in Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2016.

“Containers of Sacred Text and Image at Twelfth-Century Chōanji in Kyushu.” Artibus Asiae 74, no. 1 (2014): 43-73.

“Daring Japanese Art History: Introduction.” Artibus Asiae 74, no. 1 (2014): 9-15.

“Saved by the Bell: Six Kannon and Bonshō.” In Cultural Crossings: China and Beyond in the Early Medieval Period. Dorothy Wong, ed. Singapore: Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2014.

“The Five Kannon of Tōmyōji.” In Blackwell Companion to Asian Art. Rebecca Brown and Deborah Hutton, eds. Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2011.

“Locating Tōmyōji and Its “Six” Kannon.” In Capturing the “Original”: Archives for Cultural Properties. Tokyo: National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, 2010. English: 56-74; Japanese (Tōmyōji “Roku” Kannonzō o tadoru): 157-181.

“Views of Japanese Temples and Shrines from Near and Far: Precinct Prints of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.” Artibus Asiae 68/2 (2008): 247-285.

“Travels of the Daihōonji Six Kannon Sculptures.” Ars Orientalis, 36 (2006): 178-214.

“The Murōji Golden Hall Wall Painting or "Taishakuten Mandara.” Zurich Studies in the History of Art: Georges Bloch-Jahrbuch, Universität Zürich Kunsthistorisches Institut, 13/14 (2006/7): 434-459.

“Between Six and Thirty-three: Manifestations of Kannon in Japan” (“Zwischen sechs und dreiunddreissig: Erscheinungsformen von Kannon Bosatsu”) in Kannon, Divine Compassion: Early Buddhist Art from Japan (Kannon Göttliches Mitgefuhl Frühe buddhistische Kunst aus Japan). Zürich: Rietberg Museum at the University of Zürich, 2007.

Rearranging Art and History at the Japanese Buddhist Temple of Murōji. University of Hawai'i Press, 2005.

“The Splitting Image of Baozhi at Saiōji and His Cult in Japan.” Oriental Art, vol. XLVI, no. 4 (2000): 2-10. 

“Shifting Identities in Buddhist Sculpture: Who’s Who in the Murōji Kondō.” Archives of Asian Art, vol. LII (2000-2001): 83-104.

“Setting Foot on the Mountain: Mt. Murō as a Women’s Alternative to Mt. Kōya.”Asian Journal of Women's Studies, vol. 3, no. 4 (1998): 52-73.

“Nyonin Kōya to shite no Murōji no mondai.” Nihon shukyō bunkashi kenkyū, 2/1-2 (Nov. 1997): 43-58.

“In Search of the Dragon: Mt. Murō’s Sacred Topography.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 24/1-2 (1997): 146-161.

Exhibitions Curated

Voices: Art Linking Asia and the West. Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. December 4, 2018December 21, 2019. Co-curated with Maki Kaneko and Aileen Wang.


"Interweaving Cultures along the Silk Road(s)." September 4–December 13, 2020.

Sacred Space and Japanese Art at the Spencer Museum of Art.October 30, 2014–May 15, 2015.

“Divine Inspiration in Japanese Prints at the Spencer Museum of Art.” April 10–April 22, 2012.

Selected Honors

2021-2022 Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Research Fellowship in Buddhist Studies

2020 Keeler Intra-University Professorship in Religious Studies Department

2018-19 Big XII Faculty Fellowship, Kansas State University

2017-18 Stanford University East Asia Library Travel Grant

2017 Association of Asian Studies Japan Studies Travel Grant

2013  Florence Tan Moeson Fellowship, Asian Division, Library of Congress

2012  Big XII Faculty Fellowship, University of Texas at Austin

2011 Association of Asian Studies Japan Studies Travel Grant

2009 Japan Foundation Fellowship

2009 Hall Center for the Humanities Fellowship

2006-2007 Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellowship, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of London

2005-2006 Asian Cultural Council Asian Art and Religion Fellowship

2005 Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies

2004 Association of Asian Studies, Japan Studies Research Travel within the U.S.A.

2003 Hall Center for the Humanities Vice-Chancellor's Book Subvention Award

2001 Japan Foundation Fellowship; Association of Asian Studies Japan Studies Travel Grant

Courses Taught

Graduate Seminars (recent topics)
Sightings of Japanese Buddhist Sculpture
Korea-Japan: Negotiating Art Old and New
Theory and Method in East Asian Art History
Japanese Prints: Popular and Unpopular
Silk Road to Kansas: East Asian Art & Global Flow
Crafts in Japan: Materials, Making, and Meaning
Sacred Space in Japanese Art
Buddhist Art of the Heian and Kamakura Periods
Secrecy in Japanese Art
Pilgrimage in East Asian Art
Modernity and Identity of Transnational Japan, 1850-1950
Collecting East Asian Art in the U.S. and Europe
Japanese Buddhist Icons

Lecture Classes
Introduction to Asian Art History
History of Japanese Painting
Japanese Prints
Japanese Buddhist Art
Art of Buddhism
History of Japanese Sculpture​
Art & Culture of Japan

Doctoral Dissertations Chaired

Yen-Yi Chan, “The Kōfukuji Nan'endō and Its Buddhist Icons: Emplacing Family Memory and History of the Northern Fujiwara Clan, 800-1200,” November 2018.

Ye-Gee Kwon, “Embracing Death and the Afterlife: Sculptures of Enma and His Entourage at Rokuharamitsuji,” October 2018.

Rachel Voorhies, “Carved into the Living Rock: Japanese Stone Buddhist Sculpture and Site in the Heian and Kamakura Periods,” April 2016.

Elizabeth Williams, “Casting a New Mold: The American Silver Industry and Japanese Meiji Metalwork 1876-1893,” April 2015.

Halle O’Neal, “Written Stūpa, Painted Sūtra: Relationships of Text and Image in the Construction of Meaning in the Japanese Jeweled-Stūpa Mandalas,” 2011. Recipient of the University of Kansas Marnie and Bill Argersinger Prize for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation.

Hillary Pedersen, “The Five Great Repository Bodhisattvas: Lineage, Protection and Celestial Authority in Ninth Century Japan,” 2010.

Karen Mack, “The Function and Context of Fudo Imagery from the Ninth to Fourteenth Century in Japan,” 2006.

Elizabeth Kindall, “The Pilgrimage Paintings of Huang Xiangjian (1609-73) in the Ming-Qing Transition,” 2006.

Give ButtonAlumni SpotlightsDepartment NewsletterShare Your News

Subscribe on YouTube:

Follow us on Facebook:
Follow us on Instagram:

Apply for the
Eglinski Study Abroad Prize

Countdown to
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today