On Tuesday, Feb. 14, art students gathered in the Noel Fine Arts Center to listen to the advice of an internationally acclaimed artist, Xu Bing, who came to the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point as part of the month-long “COFAC Creates the Art Of Rewriting China.”
Bing is best known for installation work and his interest in calligraphy and the written word. Bing’s solo exhibits of his art have been at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C., the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, and other museums around the world. He is also the vice president of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, China.
The event was organized by senior art history student Ellen Larson with the help of others such as her advisor, Professor Cortney Chaffin, who started planning in the fall of 2010.
“Meeting Xu Bing was like a dream,” Larson said. “He was so wonderful, so gracious. I felt like every time I had a conversation with him, I learned more about his work as well as his thoughts on art. As a result, I felt like I grew in my understanding and appreciation of what he is doing as an artist, as well as a global citizen. His interest in fostering multi-cultural communication and global exchange regardless of one’s language background is incredible.”
This is the first time in the history of the Edna Carlsten Gallery that a contemporary Chinese artist has been featured in a solo exhibition.
Growing up, Bing learned calligraphy, which is a tradition in China. His father would make him practice every day.
“It is believed that how well you write calligraphy reflects what kind of person you are,” Bing said as he went through the Carlsten Art Gallery presenting his works on display there.
Bing said that Chinese art and aesthetics are largely based on words, writing and symbols.
In Bing’s piece “Landscript Postcards” he used this emphasis on symbols in a new way, using words to paint the picture.
“I try to use the actual words in what I draw,” Bing said. “I can get to the essence of Chinese culture.”
“A lot of my works help me understand features of my culture,” Bing said. “If you can understand your culture you can understand yourself and your people.”
Art students on Tuesday got the unique opportunity to show Bing their work and learn from his personal critique.
“This was an experience I doubt any of them will ever forget; it was on par with having someone like Pablo Picasso or Claude Monet critique your work,” Chaffin said.
During the critique session Bing stressed the importance of gaining knowledge outside of art circles to provide inspiration for artwork.
“Being able to have a critique with Xu Bing meant a lot to me,” said Graphic Design student, Stephanie Schlegel. “To be able to meet him as well have him personally look at my work and critique it and give me advice on my own art was an honor and a very humbling experience and was a truly inspiring experience.”
“COFAC Creates the Art of Rewriting China” will continue all month with a Chinese film festival and a visit this Thursday from Melissa Chiu, Director of the Asia Society Museum in New York who will be giving a public lecture at 5 p. m. in NFAC room 122.