In 1978, the reformist politician Deng Xiaoping helped launch a series of new economic policies that together marked the beginning of China’s modern “Reform Era.”
And just as this period has witnessed the emergence of China as a major international power, so too has it seen the arrival of contemporary Chinese art on the global stage.
Such is the backdrop for Wǒmen (我们): Contemporary Chinese Art, now on view at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
Curated by a trio of undergraduate students — Samantha Allen, Elizabeth Korb and Danielle Wu — the exhibition collects more than a dozen works by contemporary Chinese women artists, all created during this ongoing period of modernization and variously reflecting its hopes, illusions and realities.
The curators note that, though several artists engage with issues relating to gender politics, they generally resist the application of artistic labels, seeing themselves less as feminist artists than as individual practitioners who happen to be women.
This approach is encapsulated in the exhibition title: The Chinese character “wǒmen” (我们) can be read as “women” in English, but it literally translates more broadly to “us” in Chinese.
And indeed, the works on view span a wide variety of thematic territory, shedding light on issues that affect not only individuals but also the Chinese population as a whole. Topics range from the effects of rapid urbanization and the role of Chinese identity in a globalized society to the impact of sociocultural reforms on the fabric of everyday life.
Wǒmen (我们): Contemporary Chinese Art represents the inaugural exhibition of the Arthur Greenberg Curatorial Fellowship, a competitive program jointly sponsored by the Kemper Art Museum, the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the Department of Art History & Archaeology in Arts & Sciences. It remains on view through May 26 in the museum’s Teaching Gallery.
The Kemper Art Museum is located near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards. Regular hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The museum is closed Tuesdays.
For more information about the exhibition, call (314) 935-4523 or visit kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu.