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The Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida is exploring the intersecting roles of women in the arts of premodern, modern and contemporary China in a new exhibition titled She/Her/Hers: Women in the Arts of China. More than 50 works of painting, calligraphy, embroidery, photography, ceramic, bronze, jade, lacquer and silver, spanning the 7th century to the present, will showcase work by women, women as pictorial subjects, and women as consumers of art. The exhibition will be on view from March 1, 2022 to March 24, 2024.
detail) Kang Tao, (c. 1693 – c. 1763), Ladies with Children in a Garden, 1721, ink and color on silk
“Throughout time, women in China have engaged with the art world in diverse and inspirational ways,” said Dr. Tongyun Yin, Cofrin Curator of Asian Art. “However, for centuries in Chinese visual arts, women were often represented either as the object of desire for the male gaze or as exemplary models of female virtues such as subordination, obedience and chastity. Their creative work, if not entirely consigned to obscurity in the dominant art historical narrative, was disparaged as inferior to that of their male contemporaries.”
The goal of the exhibition is twofold, firstly to forge nuanced narratives about the overlooked field of women’s engagement with art in China; and secondly to create a platform to continue and deepen the conversation about women and the arts through recognizing the roles of different cultures and periods in shaping women’s contributions to art. An interactive activity within the exhibition invites visitors to share what they feel, think and hope will create a dynamic space to raise questions, challenge perspectives and foster discussions. During the two-year run of the exhibition, several six-month rotations will ensure that visitors will encounter new voices and perspectives on each return visit.
“This is the first exhibition since 2007 to showcase both the breadth and depth of the Harn’s Chinese art collection with many of the works rarely seen before,” said Dr. Lee Anne Chesterfield, Harn Museum Director. “She/Her/Hers: Women in the Arts of China will uncover women’s intellectual and artistic presence in the arts, give them the long-overdue recognition they deserve and celebrate their achievements now and for the future.”
She/Her/Hers: Women in the Arts of China is the first exhibition organized by Dr. Yin since being appointed Cofrin Curator of Asian Art on March 1, 2021. Instead of a sweeping survey on women and the arts throughout Chinese history, Dr. Yin approaches this broad theme from four angles. “Representing Femininity” reveals female identities within Chinese social, religious and cultural discourses. “Anonymous Beauties” demonstrates how traditional representations of women in Chinese art were primarily founded upon widely accepted stereotypes held by society in general and male painters in particular. “Female Agency” explores women’s art practices as shown in painting, calligraphy and the premier feminine art: embroidery. “Beyond Boudoir” focuses on the tremendous social and political transformation in the 20th century awakening female consciousness and opening up new territories for Chinese women and their artistic activities.
The exhibition will offer in-person, public programs providing an opportunity for visitors to engage in conversation about the works on view. These opportunities will include a Curator Talk by Dr. Yin, Educator Workshops, Tours and Museum Nights, the first of which titled “Year of the Tigress” will be held April 14 from 6 to 9 pm. All programs are free and open to the public. To learn more about future programs, visit www.harn.ufl.edu/womenintheartsofchina.
The exhibition is made possible by the generosity of the Quinn Family Charitable Foundation.
Admission to the Harn Museum of Art is free.
Download a pdf of the press release.