UO Abroad: Art professor Jenny Lin finds Shanghai illuminating

1. Where in the world were you?

I was in Shanghai, China.

2. What work were you doing there?

I was participating in an International Faculty Development Seminar sponsored by UO's Office of International Affairs. I was also conducting research for a few ongoing projects: an exhibition of recent photography and video art by Shanghai-based collective, Birdhead, which will open this fall at UO's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art and White Box Gallery in Portland, a forthcoming article on contemporary architectural illumination in Shanghai, and my book manuscript, which focuses on 20th and 21st century art and design created in and about cosmopolitan Shanghai.

3. What does this work mean for your students, peers, the public and/or the university?

My participation in the International Faculty Development Seminar hosted by the Maine-based Council on International Educational Exchange at East China Normal University is an important step towards my goal of establishing an art/architecture-focused UO study abroad program in Shanghai. I met outstanding scholars from around the world and learned all about foreign educational programs in China.

My own research focuses on modern and contemporary art and architecture in Shanghai. This city's artistic milieu is constantly expanding; just this past year, three new mega-museums devoted to modern and contemporary art opened in Shanghai. Witnessing such developments firsthand allows me to document, analyze and share these important cultural phenomena with my students and peers. I also hope to foster greater public awareness of the exciting developments in contemporary Chinese art and their relations to the country's rapid urbanization through the upcoming exhibition and conference I am organizing, "Birdhead: Picturing Global China Above Sea," which will open at UO's JSMA and White Box Gallery this fall. All are welcome to attend!

4. Tell our readers something they should do if they ever visit this locale.

In this photo, I am on a rooftop bar overlooking Shanghai's Huangpu River, the Bund, and Pudong skyline. Enjoying a cocktail amidst this dazzling nightscape is a must, as is eating Shanghai's delicious xiaolongbao (soup dumplings).

5. What was the most memorable experience on your trip?

Visiting Birdhead's art studio was a treat. Often when art historians and critics contemplate contemporary photography, we think about digital photos and post-production manipulation. But this cutting-edge art collective works in surprisingly traditional ways. I loved seeing the dark room and washing process, and the studio itself – a converted domestic space in a new suburban development on the outskirts of Shanghai. In the backyard, the artists are growing bottle gourds and raising a turtle – two auspicious symbols of traditional Chinese culture. Against the frenetic pace of a constantly globalizing Shanghai, the studio visit provided a blissful moment of calm.

For more information on grant funds awarded annually in affiliation with the Maine-based Council on International Educational Exchange, visit http://www.ciee.org/ifds/.

UO Abroad is a recurring feature in AroundtheO that spotlights UO professors, staff and GTFs whose work takes them overseas. If you or someone you know is traveling abroad, contact Communications Specialist Matt Cooper at mattc@uoregon.edu or 541-346-8875.