What Do Chinese Women Artists Want? Panel at CU Boulder Spotlights Bicultural Exchange

Chinas most well-known and controversial contemporary artist, Ai Wei Wei, has been detained by the Chinese government since April 3 and is being investigated for tax evasion, bigamy, destroying evidence and distributing pornography. But his disappearance was not a topic of discussion at RedLine on April 6, hosted by the Asian Art Coordinating Council and The Asian Art Association. What was billed as a panel discussion moderated by Lisa Tamiris Becker, director of the CU Art Museum, featured the artists Wang Nanfei and Lin Yan, who happen to be female and Chinese talking about their work and their history.  Julie Segraves, Executive Director of the Asian Art Coordinating Council opened with a presentation on the history of Chinese contemporary art. It was barely discussed that Lin Yans parents, her father Lin Gang studied Western art in the Soviet Union, and her mother Pang Tao, studied in Paris and became the first Chinese professor of art to depart from realism. Pang Taos father and Lin Yans grandfather Pang Xunqin was trained in Paris from 1925-1930 and his wife Qui Ti studied oil painting in China and Japan. These two brought the colors and techniques of Post-Impressionism and Fauvism back to China. Pang Xunqin was labeled a “Rightist” for more than twenty years. And Lin Yans parents were sent to a reform camp during the Cultural Revolution. Lin Yan was left behind in Beijing, with a succession of different families. Lin Yan told how the family found 28 of her grandmothers works hidden in a small tube during the cultural revolution. They are the only 28 works by Qui Ti known to survive.

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Wang Nanfei shared stories of the impact her brothers death had on her and how her work explores the idea of how something tragic always happens some place beautiful. Nanfei is married to Charles Decker and studied at the University of North Texas, Denton. Decker is an American photographer living in Beijing. It was he and James Surls who came up with the idea to have a collaborative exhibition and explore why being a woman artist comes with built in obstacles. Obstacles Segraves suggested we no longer have in America. Huh? “Women in China still earn 70 percent less than men,” Segraves said.

American women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Granted that is much better than in China, but Im sure the Guerilla Girls are still fighting for female equality in the art world for a reason. We havent found it yet.



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