When you enter the first gallery of the Changing Landscapes exhibit, you see classic tapestries depicting Chinese landscapes. But the exhibit quickly unfolds to display both traditional and modern uses of embroidery, printing and sculpture that tackle the idea of landscape literally and figuratively.
Changing Landscapes is the first exhibition of contemporary Chinese fiber art to travel to the United States. This weekend marks the opening of the exhibition tour's only Midwestern stop - at the Dayton Art Institute.
Three large bamboo boxes covered in colored fiber make up a piece called Balminess. Artist Bai Xin was a student in China when she created it. Guest curator Lisa Morrisette explains that sculpture was the end result of a long creative process.
"The artist here had tried to render this space of her childhood memory in many different medium, and it was finally this technique that she developed herself creating these boxes and the largest of them weighs 65lbs. They are bamboo and a variety of fibers and corn," says Morrisette.
Morrisette says that pieces like Balminess take a less traditional approach but still portray a strong sense of landscape.
"I think this evokes not a picture of a place but as much as the colors of your memory, the textures, even sound. For some reason sound really comes out in this work."
The artists featured in Changing Landscapes are either students or teachers from higher education institutions throughout China. Three generations are represented and many of the works deal with the social and economic changes that have transformed China over the past decade.
Professor Ni Yue-hong's "Floating House" depicts modern architecture floating against a brightly woven background.
"And yet the whole thing is askew and appears to be sinking inward, and Professor Ni has talked about this as portraying the experience of trying to have home. Home ownership in China is in an even more dramatic state than it is in the United States," says Lisa Morrisette.
At the end of Changing Landscapes, visitors will also have a chance to see an installation called Flow by American artist Maya Lin best known for designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.
Changing Landscapes and Flow are on display now through June 17th at the Dayton Art Institute.