Wenhong Luo, an assistant curator at the Yunnan Nationalities Museum in China and visiting scholar in American Studies at Penn State Harrisburg, examines artwork.

 Wenhong Luo, an assistant curator at the Yunnan Nationalities Museum in China and visiting scholar in American Studies at Penn State Harrisburg, examines artwork.

Image: Penn State

Penn State Scholar examines ancient art of Chinese quilts

Lecture to explore how art reflects changing Chinese culture and society as well as women's status

MONT ALTO, Pa. ― On April 26, 2017, Wenhong Luo, an assistant curator at the Yunnan Nationalities Museum in China and visiting scholar in American Studies at Penn State Harrisburg, will present a lecture on Chinese quilts, entitled “NÜ GONG as a Cultural Practice in Chinese History,” at the Penn State Mont Alto Library. The lecture will begin at 11:00 a.m. It is free of charge and open to the public.

Luo will discuss the changing history of NÜ GONG (女红), a Mandarin phrase indicating the process and production of weaving, sewing, knitting, embroidery and other textile and needlework. In ancient China, these forms of craft labor were considered women’s vocations, according to Luo. The changing history of NÜ GONG reflects the changing of Chinese culture and society, as well as women’s status.

This lecture will explore key moments in NÜ GONG history as it has shifted from a means of livelihood, to a method for educating and disciplining women’s behavior and attitude, to a silent code for women’s expression, to an outdated and neglected form, to its new life as contemporary art practice, traditional culture carrier, and alternative lifestyle.

NÜ GONG has served as both a craft technique and a unique language in Chinese culture, and will remain as a living form of expression, one which can join beauty and intelligence, the private and the public, intuition and reason, the past and the future, according to Luo.

As assistant curator at the Yunnan Nationalities Museum, China, Luo’s responsibilities include conducting ethnic material culture-related research, producing ethnic art exhibits, and coordinating international cooperation for the museum.

In October 2016, her first curated exhibit "Divine Presence in the Details: Technology, Art and Aesthetic in Kimono Texture Dyeing" opened at the Yunnan Nationalities Museum.

Luo earned an M.A. degree in Cultural Anthropology at Renmin University (Beijing, China) in 2012 with a thesis titled "The Jianghu of Chinese Contemporary Art: A Communitas and its Aquatic Shape." That study was based on a year’s fieldwork in the 798 Art Zone (Dashanzi Art District).

Her current interests include ethnic material culture studies, the structure and culture of liminality and liminal groups, and anthropological museum curation.

 For more information about the event, contact Debra Collins at dlc43@psu.edu or 717-749-6112.