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Part of Li Fan's The Square, a Lithograph on paper
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Art show gives PhD students valuable curating experience

3 August 2016

Bingqing Wei and Minerva Inwald have melded theory with hands-on experience for the University Art Gallery's latest exhibition. 

Bingqing Wei and Minerva Inwald at the exhibition's install.

Bingqing Wei and Minerva Inwald at the exhibition's install. 

After completing her PhD in two years, Bingqing Wei hopes to broaden the world’s understanding of Chinese art. Co-curating the University of Sydney Art Gallery’s latest exhibition has given her insight how to do this.

“Curating an exhibition is a way of telling audiences a story on the basis of selected artworks,” says Wei, a doctoral student in art history. “I now appreciate the curatorial process, when different modes of thinking came together to piece together a story according to the selected artworks available.”

Floating Time: Chinese Prints, 1954-2002 is a series of prints produced during the period of Chairman Mao Zedong’s rule and since his death. With most works from the 1980s and 1990s, the exhibition explores themes around the extraordinary social and cultural transformations brought about by Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms.

Bingqing co-curated the exhibition with fellow PhD candidate Minerva Inwald, under the supervision of Dr Stephen Whiteman, a Lecturer in Asian Art at the University. A sub-section of her doctoral research examines the changing roles of Chinese women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. 

“I was able to identify some prints and associated printmakers’ reflections on urbanisation and its impact on Chinese women’s social roles, social surveillance and women’s status.”

Projects like these help make students better rounded.
Dr Stephen Whiteman, Lecturer in Asian Art

Minerva’s PhD examines how the National Art Museum of China presented ideas about the role of art in that country and curating an exhibition sharpened her ability to examine artworks in an historical context. 

“After my first year of PhD research I was still having trouble connecting exhibitions to broader historical developments. By focusing on printmaking I was able to trace the debates in one field and then see how those debates influenced the production of artworks.”

When asked to curate Floating Time Dr Whiteman said he was keen to involve postgraduate students as he thinks practical experience of the curatorial process makes students more competitive internationally.

“Minerva and Bingqing will come out of this experience having curated a significant exhibition from start to finish and with a peer-reviewed publication,” he said. They will also have gained valuable experience in working hands-on with objects and learned the mechanics of exhibition design.

“Projects like these help make students better rounded.”

Exhibition details:

What: Floating Time: Chinese Prints, 1954-2002

Where: University Art Gallery, War Memorial Arch, Quadrangle, Science Road

When: 1 August to 25 November2016

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 10am-4.30pm and the first Saturday of each month.

Contact: 02 93516883 or art.collection@sydney.edu.au

Jocelyn Prasad

Media and Public Relations Advisor
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