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Emerson Gallery Hosts Three Exhibits of Chinese Art

Opening Scheduled on Thursday, Sept. 4

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Hamilton's Emerson Gallery is hosting three new exhibitions of Chinese art showcasing both traditional and contemporary works this semester. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, Sept. 4, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 

The first exhibition, "Cherishing the Past," will present masterpieces of Qing and Ming dynasty calligraphy and painting from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University. "Dislocating the Center: Contemporary Chinese Art Beyond National Borders," explores current Chinese art and the dynamics of globalization through the work of three international artists, including landscape paintings by Arnold Chang, Michael Cherney's photographic studies of sacred mountains and cultural monuments, and Chinese calligraphy by André Kneib. The third exhibition presents video footage and objects from Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei's "Fairytale," a vast installation and performance work in which Ai brought 1,001 people from China to the Documenta 12 exhibition in Kassel, Germany, last year. Ai served as a design consultant for the Bird's Nest, the new Olympic Stadium in Beijing. 

The show will run until Jan. 4. The exhibitions are free and open to the public.

Special gallery events:
On Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 4:15 p.m., Ellen Avril, curator of Asian art and chief curator at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, will give a gallery talk on the "Cherishing the Past" exhibition.

On Saturday, Oct. 4 at 3 p.m., Steven Goldberg, Hamilton associate professor of art history, will give a gallery talk on the "Dislocating the Center" exhibition. A reception will take place from 2-6 p.m.

On Saturday, Nov. 1, with a gallery talk at 3 p.m. by Ian Berry, consulting director of the Emerson Gallery and associate director of curatorial affairs at Skidmore College's Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery will give a gallery talk on the "Fairytale" exhibit. A reception will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Chinese art exhibition is being held in concert with the New York Conference on Asian Studies (NYCAS), which takes place at Hamilton College from Sept. 26-27, and whose theme is "Cultural Connections, Convergences, and Collisions Past and Present."

"Cherishing the Past: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art Cornell University" includes paintings of a Buddhist subject, an intimate view of nature and landscapes and calligraphy of the scholar-gentleman. With works from the 15th through the 18th centuries, the exhibition provides a study of literati aesthetics in the Ming and Qing dynasties.

"Dislocating the Center: Contemporary Chinese Art Beyond National Borders" brings together works by Arnold Chang, Michael Cherney and André Kneib, three artists who challenge the idea that Chinese art is restricted within national borders, recasting it as a global project that transcends ethnicity and political boundaries.

Chang, Cherney and Kneib's work arises out of a common concern with the divide between Chinese tradition and modernity. The split is usually traced back to the May Fourth cultural movement, which took its name from the student demonstrations held on May 4, 1919, to protest the transfer of control over Shandong Province from Germany to Japan, following World War I. The nationalistic, anti-imperialist movement tried to assert China's equal status with other world powers by embracing Western culture and moving away from the country's Confucian past. In different ways, Chang, Cherney and Kneib attempt to return to China's venerable art forms while incorporating the aesthetics of their own cultural and historical backgrounds.

"Fairytale" was organized as part of Documenta 12, a prestigious international art show that takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. Ai used an open call on his blog to select 1,001 Chinese volunteers, including farmers, teachers, students, artists and engineers, and brought them to Kassel in groups of two for one week each, with their airfare and lodging paid for. The participants lived communally in an abandoned factory and were free to explore the city and the art show, although they were not allowed to leave Kassel. Costing more than three million euros, the work was sponsored by the Swiss Leister and Erlenmeyer Foundations as well as Ai's primary gallery, the Galerie Urs Meile, of Lucerne and Beijing. He is known for painting a Han dynasty urn with a Coca-Cola label and projects such as Fragments, where he gave a group of assistants guidelines to piece together a sculpture from wooden fragments of ancient temples.
The Emerson Gallery is located on the Hamilton campus in Clinton, New York, in the Christian A. Johnson Hall, directly behind the Chapel. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. For information on parking and wheelchair accessibility, contact the gallery at 315-859-4396 or at the gallery's Web site, www.hamilton.edu/gallery.

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