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Micheal Cherney | Conversations: Past and Present in Asia and America At Allen Memorial Art Museum

In the arts, the past is often present in many forms. It can appear as a resilient stylistic tradition, or a subject revisited over long stretches of time. It may be a source of inspiration, or a mirror for self-reflection. References to the past can also depict a misremembered utopia, steeped in a nostalgia for what may never have been. They can reveal still-raw wounds, aching from loss or injustice.

Inspired by the AMAM’s 2016–17 theme of “Time,” this exhibition bridges wide temporal and cultural distances, linking the works of artists from China, Japan, Korea, the United States, and Canada, both well-known and anonymous, living and long gone. In the fall of 2016, the exhibition will feature paintings and calligraphy that reflect the lasting legacy of the Chinese literati tradition. For the spring 2017 semester, a fresh rotation of works highlights adaptations by contemporary East Asian and Asian-American artists of the graphic sensibilities of Pop Art and Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, along with the creative reworking of imagery from historical photographs. On view throughout the year will be contemporary ceramics that respond to various East Asian ceramic styles.

These “conversations” do not simply mimic the past, but engage it in a dialogue that references earlier subjects, styles, mediums, and techniques and infuses them with the artist’s contemporary reality. They may take the form of respectful imitation, creative reinterpretation, bitter critique, ironic send-up, and sometimes all of these at once.


The exhibition is organized by Kevin R.E. Greenwood, Joan L. Danforth Curator of Asian Art.



  • Allen Memorial Art Museum
  • July 12, 2016 – May 21, 2017


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