Leah Samuelson's 'Real Dragon 1,' made of wire plaster, stone, and wood mosaic, and sea spines. | Credit: Courtesy

China’s contemporary artists radiate a special energy that comes from living through an epoch-making cultural shift. Many of them can remember a time just a few decades ago when there were no art galleries in Beijing. Today there are more than 300. In June 2018, a group of American artist/educators traveled to China as part of a program designed to encourage cross-cultural conversation, creation, and collaboration.

Matter + spirit exhibit Westmont
Yuanming Cao’s ‘Chinese Village Churches’ series. Digital print on metal.

Matter + Spirit: A Chinese/American, the new online show from the Westmont Ridley-Tree Art Museum, showcases the work of 25 of the artists involved. What’s most remarkable about the exhibition is its depth. Each artist featured gets a separate page including detailed information about his or her career. This helps understand the ways in which the cross-cultural influence flowed.

For example, check out the performances of Jiuyang Zhu, represented here by stills and videos, and then watch Westmont professor Meagan Stirling’s video from a project called “Digging a Hole to China.” It’s delightful, thought-provoking, and only one aspect of a multifaceted exhibit.

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