AAWAA  Asian American Women Artists Alliance
Traditional Balinese Dance PerformanceAAWAA at Puffin RoomAt the opening reception of "Subject Matters"At the opening reception of "Talking Hands""Ruffled Feathers" at Puffin Room, NYCCelebrating the Lunar New Year:  Lion Dance"Identity" Exhibition as part of New York City Cool FestivalPerformance at Eat Art 7

Asian American Women Artists Alliance
Press Release  1/13/08
For Immediate release

Contact: Yan Kong
            info@aawaa.org   www.aawaa.org

Rural Life – Celebrating Chinese Peasant Art

In rural China, women play an important role as artists in addition to their other roles as mothers, wives, caretakers of the elderly, and agricultural laborers who make up 60 percent of all fieldworkers. In the past, these artists were often anonymous. But today, many have become well-known and respected, and their works are eagerly collected.
The Asian American Women Artists Alliance (AAWAA) and the Beijing Chinese Peasant Painting and Calligraphy Exhibition Committee have collaborated to bring, for the first time, an exhibition of Contemporary Chinese Peasant Art to New York City. From February 2 through April 8 the 104 artwork which are mostly gouache paintings and some clay/wood sculptures and paper-cuts will be shown at four different venues within New York City.

Opening Reception: There will be only one opening reception for
Rural Life – Celebrating Chinese Peasant Art
Thursday, March 6, 5:30 – 8:30 PM
Gallery 1199
Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center
310 W. 43rd St., NYC
212-261-2210  www.bread-and-roses.com

Exhibition Date and venues
February 2 – March 2, 2008
Title of exhibit: Rural Life, Celebrating Chinese Peasant Women’s Art
Steinhardt Conservatory Gallery
Brooklyn Botanic Garden,
1000 Washington Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225
718-623-7200  www.bbg.org

March 4 – April 8, 2008  For Women’s History Month
Title of Exhibit: Rural Life, Celebrating Chinese Peasant Art
Gallery 1199
Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center
310 W. 43rd St., NYC
212-261-2210  www.bread-and-roses.com

Donnell Public Library
20 West 53rd Street, New York, NY
212-621-0694   www.nypl.org/branch/central/dlc/

AAWAA Gallery
136 15th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215
718-788-6170  www.aawaa.org

Folk arts in China have long traditions in paper-cuts, woodblock prints, and embroidered textiles. These objects have been made for centuries by peasants. Comparatively, gouache paintings which became popular after the Chinese Peasant Revolution of 1947, are relatively new developments within the category of Chinese folk arts. During the 50s. peasants were encouraged by Chinese government to describe their lives in paintings with strong messages of Communist propaganda. Today, this art is enjoying a renaissance and has shed its political slant to depict simple joy of everyday life in the country.

Chinese folk arts are full of symbolism representing luck, prosperity, long life, happiness, and wealth.  Symbols representing these virtues are often seen in everyday life and appear especially during holidays and festivals. These practiced arts are important to Chinese religion and beliefs in the countryside which are used both to decorate homes and to wish for good fortune in all aspects of life. Traditional paper-cuts are made at home with scissors or knives from very thin sheets of colored paper and are pasted on windows or hung on doors, especially during holidays and festivals like the Lunar New Year. Each part of China has different styles of paper-cuts. However, many paper cuts share two common themes: protection from evil forces and the health and well-being of the family. Shaanxi Province is well known for making some of the most beautiful paper cuts and the upcoming exhibits will include many paper-cuts from Shannxi.

The gouache paintings are from the provinces of Hebei, Jiangsu ,Shanxi, Fujian, Liaoning, Jiling, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Inner-Mongolia, Yunnan and the capital city of Beijing. Although the geographic area covered is vast, the paintings share a bright palette, unique compositions, and cheerful decoration, reflecting the simplicity of people who live far from the complexities of big city life.
Perhaps the most common of all Chinese folk arts are woodblock prints. They have been made since the 11th century. The woodblock prints shown in the exhibits are mostly from Fujian Province.

Meng Meifang and Yu Zeling, two peasant women artists will come from China in March to do 10 Chinese folk arts workshops. They will represent the Chinese peasant artists by attending the opening reception at Gallery 1199, on Thursday, March 6.  For workshop information and schedules please visit http://www.aawaa.org/links/2007/CPArt08/folkartworkshop.htm

Special guest artist Xu Zhu Chu, A master puppet maker and designer will show his wooden puppet heads at Donnell Public Library and AAWAA Gallery.

This exhibition program is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Brooklyn Arts Council; JPMorganChase/BAC, China Peasant Painting and Calligraphy Exhibition Committee, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Donnell Public Library, Bread and Roses Cultural Project, 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East, AAWAA and the David Schwartz Foundation.