Chinese Expressions comes to Houston
The Confucius Institute (CI) at Texas Southern University has staged an art exhibition in an effort to bring more Chinese art to the Houston public.
CI hosted a reception on Friday night to kick off a contemporary art exhibit titled Chinese Expressions, featuring several paintings from 10 different artists along the theme of calligraphy and ink wash paintings.
The exhibit runs through Nov 13 and is the start of several events planned for the institute.
Yi Xiao, Chinese director of CI since April, said the institute will be busy well into next year.
“This month, we have four major projects, and this is the first one,” Yi said. “Following this event, we will have presentations on the Chinese railway system and Chinese history. For next year, we have around 30 events planned,” Yi said.
Congressman Al Green and Consul General of China Li Qiangmin attended the event.
“We are very appreciative of what the Confucius Institute does, which is to build a bridge between Houston and China,” Li said. “We are very thankful for Al Green, who graduated right here from Texas Southern University. I am very surprised so many young children can sing beautiful Chinese songs. More and more American people are learning Chinese and Chinese culture.”
Wang Liyuan, the event coordinator, said she loves being a part of the institute because it is a good platform to promote Chinese art in Houston.
“Art has no language barrier,” she said. “You can view the painting directly with your eyes — it’s in front of you. There’s no boundary between countries when it comes to art. That’s one of the reasons the director wanted to do the exhibit in the first place.”
There was a performance of Chinese songs by third-grade students from Global Learning Village, a charter school.
Loretta Williams, a mother of one of the student performers, said she was amazed by the paintings and culture being displayed.
“The exhibit was wonderful,” she said. “What I love about it is the diversity, to be able to bring out African-American and Chinese and Mexican culture under one roof, and then to have African-American children able to perform in Chinese fluently. We are very thankful.”
The exhibit consists of all contemporary and modern artists. Yang Yuehui, one of the featured artists, said the event was of momentous and current significance because it showcased the history of cultural and artistic exchanges between two nations.
“Painting is a non-linguistic exchange,” Yang said. “The characteristics in common manifest the same glory and wonder between different cultures.
“Chinese water-ink painting has its distinct sense of visual beauty and sensational tastes of aesthetics. It is my sacred practice forever.”
Another artist, Qingniang Tang, said he was trying to add a contemporary twist to the traditional medium of Chinese ink by painting unconventional scenes.
“It’s a traditional painting, but I try not to do anything too traditional,” he said. “Usually, traditional paintings of scenery are horizontal and eye-level, but mine is more similar to Google Earth.”
Director Yi was pleased with the positive response from the reception and said it will serve as a catalyst to pursue other similar events next year.
“We want to try our best to promote Chinese language and culture. Houston is such a big city, if we do a good job here it can influence the rest of the south,” said Yi.
Menelik Gurnell, a student from Global Learning Village, reads a poem aloud to his father.