Horse with Rider, Western Han dynasty
(206 BCE - 9 CE)
Earthenware with pigment
13-1/2" x 11-3/4" x 4-1/2"
Gift of Chauney P. Lowe
From Tomb to Temple: Unearthing Ancient China through the Vanderbilt University Fine Art Collection
(June 19 - October 12, 2014)
History of Art Alumni Lecture and Gallery Talk: "Chinese Funerary Art in its Cultural and Architectural Context"
October 9, 2014 at 4 p.m. in Cohen 203
In distant times, the universe, according to popular Chinese legend, was an enormous egg. One day the egg split open; its upper half became the sky, its lower half the earth, and from it emerged Pangu, primordial man. Every day he grew ten feet taller, the sky ten feet higher, and the earth ten feet thicker. After eighteen thousand years, Pangu died. His head split and became the sun and moon, while his blood filled the rivers and seas. His hair became the forests and meadows, his perspiration the rain, his breath the wind, and his voice the thunder – and his fleas our ancestors.
-Michael Sullivan, An Introduction to Chinese Art (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961) 25.
A people’s origin legends generally give a clue as to what they think is most important. The above legend is no exception. It expresses a typically Chinese viewpoint – namely that man is not the culminating achievement of creation, but is integral to the natural world. Spirituality is found in nature, from the circular dome of heaven wherein celestial bodies revolve, to the earth below on which mountains and rivers were formed. Objects on display in this exhibit represent the divine forces of heaven and earth, gods and ancestors.
China looks back upon the oldest continuous artistic tradition existing in the world today. Other civilizations predated the Chinese, but only in China does a current civilization extend back in unbroken continuity for well over four thousand years. Many characteristics of ancient Chinese art have persisted or recurred throughout centuries. This exhibition samples two concentrations that distinguish the gallery’s holdings: the personalized sculpture of the tomb, and universalized objects of the temple. It is arranged with respect to these subcategories, while emphasizing the relationship between tomb, temple, and divine mountains.
From Tomb to Temple: Unearthing Ancient China through the Vanderbilt University Art Collection is organized by the Department of History of Art in conjunction with the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery. This exhibition is curated by students of the course “Exhibiting Historical Art: The Sculptural Traditions of Imperial China” : Hana Betts, ’15; Corey Bowen, ’15; Jessica DeAngelo, ’15; Lucy Gonzalez, ’16; Emily Grant, ’16; Jenna Lindley, '14; MingYang Lu, ’15; Elisa Marks, ’14; Laura Payne, ’14; and Alex Penn, '15.
I am Unbeatable–Documenting and Celebrating Stories of Empowerment–Photographs by Donna Ferrato
(September 12 - December 4, 2014)
Donna Ferrato’s groundbreaking documentary project, Living with the Enemy, serves as a context for framing her new campaign against domestic violence, I Am Unbeatable, which takes her social activism to a new level by focusing on survivors of domestic abuse. Through a storytelling partnership with acclaimed American journalist Alex Chadwick, best known for his work on National Public Radio, and Claudia Dowling, award-winning journalist for such publications as Life magazine, Time, and others, I Am Unbeatable is an exhibition, a grass-roots effort to support women who have escaped violent relationships, and a means to speak directly to young women and girls who have yet to declare themselves “unbeatable.”
The author of five books, Ferrato is a self-taught photographer who became a freelance photojournalist in 1976. She was based in Paris and Belgium until 1978 and traveled extensively in Europe and the United States throughout the late 1970s. She was hired by Japanese Playboy in 1982 to photograph couples who epitomized the wealthy American lifestyle of the early 1980s. After witnessing the husband of one of those couples brutally beat his wife, Ferrato embarked on an independent documentation of domestic violence in the United States.
For more than a decade, she traveled with police, lived in battered women’s shelters, camped out in emergency rooms, and stayed in maximum security prisons with women who were serving life sentences for killing their abusers in self-defense. Ferrato’s photographs on this subject were published in Life, The New York Times Magazine, Time, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications, and were aired on the television programs Dateline and Eye on America. The culmination of Ferrato’s domestic violence project came in 1991 with the publication of her book, Living with the Enemy, and the founding of the Domestic Abuse Awareness Project, which seeks to end violence against women and children through awareness, education, and action. From the year of its founding through 2009, the Domestic Abuse Awareness project produced exhibitions on domestic violence to raise money for women's shelters.
Sarah, a survivor of domestic violence, and her children are the subject of much of this exhibition. A short film on her family will premier at the opening and be shown continually thereafter in the Gallery.
This exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Class of 2018 Commons Reading, Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward. I Am Unbeatable—Documenting and Celebrating Stories of Empowerment—Photographs by Donna Ferrato is organized by the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery and curated by Joseph S. Mella, director.