Two years after graduating from DePauw University in 1953, Bruce Walker became a case officer with the Central Intelligence Agency. As a CIA officer, Walker participated in the Tibetan resistance project (code name ST CIRCUS) in its earliest stages, only six years after the Chinese People’s Liberation Army invaded Tibet and captured the capital city of Lhasa. He assisted with training the Tibetan militia for eight years (1960-1968), and supported the program from two fronts: Sikkim, India, and Camp Hale in Eagle County, Colorado. During Walker’s time in India, he assembled a growing collection of twenty-six religious objects. Many of the objects are purely for ritual and monastic use, whereas others are meant for an individual’s personal devotion. To this day, the spiritual connection between these objects and their Tibetan Buddhist roots remains clear.
In 2002, Walker donated his 66-piece collection of Tibetan thangkas, works on paper, and religious objects to DePauw University. DePauw University's 2018 Infinite Splendor, Infinite Light exhibition was the first public exhibition of his collection since 2003, and was accompanied by a complimentary 86-page full-color catalog, with contributions from DePauw University students, faculty, and staff.
Funding for the original exhibition and print catalog was generously provided by: the Arthur E. Klauser Endowment, Asian Studies, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the Larry & Lesley Stimpert Endowment Fund, Peace & Conflict Studies, the Efroymson Family Fund: A Central Indiana Community Foundation Fund, and the Prindle Institute for Ethics.
Image: The Buddha of Infinite Life (Amitayus), early 20th century. Thangka: pigment on cotton with silk mount, 46 x 26-1/2 inches. DePauw Art Collection: 2002.4.6, detail.