The Museum of Chinese in America

Founded in 1980, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States.

MOCA Monday: Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection and/or past exhibitions. For more information, visit our website.

Jadin Wong: singer, dancer, comedienne and agent.

 

“Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance! Chinese America in the Nightclub Era” was a multimedia exhibition on the entertainers who broke with tradition, defied stereotypes and expectations, and opened doors for the many generations of Asian American artists to come. In 2002, MOCA presented this spotlight on performers of the 1930s-50s including (among others) the performer Jadin Wong, pictured above. Jadin was a pioneering Chinese American actress, singer, dancer (and later in life, talent agent and manager) with a quick wit and an tireless passion for Asian Americans in the arts.

Filed under: Collections, Exhibitions, MOCA Monday, , , , ,

MOCA Monday: Burr Puzzle

The Museum of Chinese in America maintains an extensive archive and collection of Chinese American artifacts and oral histories. MOCA Mondays will briefly highlight one image or item from the collection and/or past exhibitions. For more information, visit our website.

Antique Burr-Ball diagram. Yi Zhi Tang Collection.

 

This vintage diagram of a Burr puzzle was included in the exhibition “Chinese Puzzles: Games for the Hands and Mind”, curated by Wei Zhang and Peter Rasmussen from their Yi Zhi Tang collection. (Previously blogged about here by Ting-Chi Wang and here by Marissa Chen.) Do you have a favorite game or puzzle? It is more traditional, like Tangrams or Linked-Rings, or more modern, like Settlers of Catan or Uno? Share your favorite in our comments!

Filed under: Exhibitions, MOCA, MOCA Monday, , , , , , ,

Alice Yang and Chinese Curators Today

In the early 2000s a friend told me about a curator named Alice Yang and the way she died tragically after being struck by a hit-and-run driver on Canal Street in 1998. We had lost one of the very few established Asian curators who were working in New York’s art scene, my friend lamented. Her remark implied a lost opportunity for aspiring Chinese curators, that if only she were alive, Ms. Yang would be able to champion the causes of other Chinese curators and artists. With her untimely death, a door for Chinese curators to enter the field seemed to have closed.

Ms. Yang was born in Taiwan and by all accounts was headed for a long, brilliant career. She was 35, a little younger than I am now when she passed away, fairly new to her job as Chief Curator of the Parrish Museum in Long Island and just about to open a show of works on paper by Taiwanese artists at The Drawing Center. She had developed her curatorial and scholarly chops through internships at the New Museum and the Whitney Museum.

In retrospect, it turns out that Alice Yang did blaze a trail for Chinese curators because there are now many Chinese curators in New York doing really interesting work, pushing the field in new, unexpected ways, and advancing the craft of curating. I wanted to compile a list (in alphabetical order) of some of these curators, many of whom I’m happy to call my friends and mentors, to highlight the work they’re doing. This list is not meant to be comprehensive; in fact, I hope it’s not. The truth is we need more Chinese curators doing the important work of presenting and interpreting contemporary culture. So to this list, I hope we’ll add many more names in the coming years.

Aimee Chan-Lindquist is an independent curator and the PR / Marketing Manager at EXIT Art. She was previously the director of Christopher Grimes Gallery in Los Angeles. Currently, Aimee is working on an exhibition of artist collectives at Kunsthalle Detroit and other independent curatorial projects.

Alexandra Chang is the Director of Public Programs and Research Manager of the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University. Chang has curated exhibitions and written on contemporary art, graffiti, design and architecture, including co-curating the exhibition Art, Archives and Activism: Martin Wong’s Downtown Crossings at the A/P/A Institute 7th Floor Gallery at NYU in 2009.

Howie Chen founded Dispatch with Gabrielle Giattino in 2007. Dispatch was a New York-based curatorial partnership that was conceived in response to a curatorial field that was increasingly preoccupied with institutional self-administration and formalized bureaucracies. I sadly never visited Dispatch when they were around but I’m sure Howie’s working on interesting projects that will reveal themselves soon. In 2009 Howie curated a series of talks, readings, concerts and performances in conjunction with the Dan Graham retrospective at the Whitney Museum.

Melissa Chiu is Director of the Asia Society Museum in New York and Vice President of the Society’s Global Arts Programming. She was appointed director in 2004 after serving for three years as the Museum’s first curator of contemporary Asian and Asian American art. Among of the highlights of her tenure was the show Art and China’s Revolution (Sept 2008-Jan 2009), which featured art made during and for the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) in China; the recently closed show of Buddhist art from Pakistan, as well as a Zhang Huan retrospective in 2007.

Ingrid Chu is a curator and critic based in New York. In 2008, Ingrid co-founded (along with Savannah Gorton) Forever & Today, Inc., a non-profit alternative art space based in New York’s Chinatown/Lower East Side that allows artists to engage diverse audiences through curated and commissioned exhibitions, site-specific installations, performances, publications, and educational and public programs. This winter, Forever & Today will be presenting a new project by Jack Early and a performance by pioneering Fluxus artist Alison Knowles.

Steven Lam is the Associate Dean at the Cooper Union School of Art, as well as an independent curator. He’s curated exhibitions in New York and Hong Kong, including co-curating Tainted Love at La MaMa Galleria and For Reasons of State at the Kitchen in New York.  Lam focuses his work on how artists connect political activities with creative processes. He’s working on an upcoming show at Cooper Union about the deployment of precious metals in art.

Christopher Lew is the Assistant Curator at MoMA P.S.1 and is currently preparing for the opening of an exhibition by performance artist Clifford Owens, on view November 13, 2011—March 12, 2012. Prior to his current position as Assistant Curator, he served as the Manager of Curatorial Affairs at MoMA P.S.1.  Lew is also an independent curator and organized exhibitions with AICON Gallery in 2010 and Aljira Contemporary Arts Center in 2008.

Olivia Shao, an artist and independent curator, organized an exhibition at MoMA P.S.1. in conjunction with Greater New York, a survey of new art in 2010. This exhibition, titled The Baghdad Batteries was adapted for David Zwirner Gallery that same year and reinterpreted as The Evryali Score.

Jason Sun is the curator of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has worked extensively on a number of exhibitions at the Met, including co-organizing The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty in 2010. Jason is also a welcome new addition to MOCA’s Board of Trustees, lending his expertise on exhibitions and collections policies.

Eugenie Tsai, the John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum, who curated the historically exceptional Robert Smithson retrospective for the Whitney Museum in 2005. Eugenie has recently organized a selection of recent work by Sanford Biggers, titled Sanford Biggers: Sweet Funk – An Introspective and is presenting Lee Mingwei’s The Moving Garden project in the Brooklyn Museum’s lobby.

And finally, Ryan Wong is the new Assistant Curator at MOCA, after having worked as an administrator in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Exhibitions Department. He has degrees in Art History and Urban Studies, and I’m looking forward to seeing the mark he’ll be making here at the museum.

Herb Tam
Curator and Director of Exhibitions

 

Filed under: Exhibitions, MOCA

The Travelers: Childhood Memories of Taiwan

First Day of Kindergarten, Taipei, 1969. Courtesy of Lee Mingwei.

The image on the poster for the new exhibition at MOCA, Lee Mingwei: The Travelers and The Quartet Project (shown left) is a photo of Lee Mingwei and his mother en route to his first day of kindergarten in Taipei. In the office last week, fresh from the printer, the poster had been folded down into an over-sized brochure. I caught a glimpse of the power lines, then the skyline of trees of various shapes and heights, and when the entire image was in full view, the bridge railing made of concrete–unadorned in its original glory. With each unfolding, I traveled closer to those three months of my childhood when this view of a concrete slab against a tree-lined sky framed by power lines was a daily sight. I must have been about 5 and had recently arrived in Taiwan after several years in the States. Because I missed the minimum enrollment age for first grade in Taipei by a few months, my parents decided to send me to live with my grandparents in Hsinchu, a small town an hour south of Taipei where schools were less stringent about age-eligibility. I don’t remember who took me to my first day of school, but my grandfather was a frequent companion on my morning walks to school. On the way to and from school, we would cross a concrete bridge much like the one in Lee Mingwei’s photo, except the concrete slab that stood in for a proper bridge railing was only ankle height. I remember this detail because one day, I got into trouble for crossing this bridge. Once school let out, I usually made my way home with a friend who lived on the same street. Unbeknownst to us, my grandfather would sometimes watch–OK, who am I kidding, spy on–us while we walked home from school. Good thing he did, because I guess instead of walking, my friend and I played tag all the way home, oblivious to other pedestrians, traffic and our surroundings in general. I got reprimanded because on this particular day, I was almost chased off the side of the bridge. Another step, my grandfather pointed out, and I would have fallen off the bridge since this concrete slab of a railing only reached my ankles.

The author and her mother (right) with a friend, friend's sister and mother, circa 1981.

I didn’t think that out of all the elements in Lee Mingwei’s exhibition, I would find the strongest personal connection to the backdrop of his photo, but as usual, where an object in MOCA’s exhibitions and collection transports us in our minds and in our lives never ceases to surprise me. Throughout my years at MOCA, I’ve had many such experiences–from a mother of Haitian descent recounting her grandmother’s life story upon seeing the 8-pound iron in our core exhibitions to just last month, when a group of Chinese American veterans spotted the 1943 photo of the 407th Air Service Squadron on display and began to call out the names of the men they recognized in the photo. I learned that here at MOCA, so many years later, it was the first time many of them had seen a photo of themselves in full-dress uniform.

I know I’m not alone in these remembrances. When you see objects in MOCA’s exhibitions, what place, what time, what mood do you experience or return to?

Beatrice Chen
Director of Education and Public Programs

Filed under: Exhibitions, Lee Mingwei’s Blog for The Travelers, , , ,

Museum as Material: Curator Herb Tam on Lee Mingwei

In advance of the forthcoming exhibition, Lee Mingwei: The Travelers and The Quartet Project,  Curator Herb Tam discusses how Lee’s work re-imagines what a museum could be. The exhibition opens with a public reception on Thursday, October 20, 7-9pm. For more information visit http://www.mocanyc.org/exhibitions/current

A page from Book no. 50

Excerpt from Museum as Material: The Travelers and the Radical Domesticity of Lee Mingwei

I am writing this in the days after New York State passed historic legislation legally recognizing gay marriage, throwing light onto a broad shift in the nature of domestic spaces that has been developing since World War II. As we prepare to install Lee Mingwei’s exhibition at MOCA, I find myself reflecting on what his work says about the role and status of museums today, how it relates to the idea of home, and what his commissioned project, The Travelers, will literally and conceptually do to our space.

The Museum of Chinese in America, having begun without exhibit facilities in 1980 as the Chinatown History Project, and after inhabiting a warren of rooms at P.S. 23 in Chinatown for more than 20 years, moved in 2009 to its current 215 Centre Street location. The new site, a former machinery repair shop, was designed by Maya Lin and refers to the sacred domestic space of the home.  Indeed, the central area in the museum alludes to the courtyards that are commonly seen in traditional homes throughout China.

In 2010, Lee was asked to create a site-specific project inspired and informed by MOCA, our new building, and our work to describe the history and culture of Chinese experience in America. In past work, Lee has challenged artistic and social conventions. In 1999, he and artist Virgil Wong (members of the collective PaperVeins) staged an elaborate virtual project that cast Lee as a pregnant man.  Inviting Lee, whose work typically demands personal engagement with the artist himself or with a condition he has set, has forced MOCA to confront its own shifting identity as a museum settling into a new space. The project Lee conceived of, The Travelers, imagines the museum as a home, just like Maya Lin’s design intimates. But The Travelers does so by raising questions about the expectations of our space and by highlighting shifts in the meaning and function of both museums and homes.

In addition to its references to Chinese American experience and to this particular museum, it is instructive to see The Travelers as arising from a tradition of artistic activity that seeks to destabilize institutional spaces. For more than a decade, Lee has done so by creating situations that relocate the field of domestic experience into the logistics of museums. If both Lee’s body of work including The Travelers and MOCA refer in different ways to home, we should ask what this space signifies today.

A contributor shares her story.

The full version of this essay is on the exhibition’s poster, which will be available at the Museum.

Filed under: Exhibitions, Lee Mingwei’s Blog for The Travelers, , ,

The Travelers Giveaway: Exclusive MOCA Traveling Tote!

We’re kicking off a contest series for The Travelers, an ongoing project and upcoming exhibition by artist Lee Mingwei, who custom-made 100 notebooks that are being circulated internationally. The books are meant to travel for one calendar year, passed on like chain letters, documenting stories. Participants are asked to write stories about the concept of “leaving home,” which will be available for visitors to read once the project has reached completion and is installed at MOCA.

Get involved on the web! This month’s question:

Where do you currently call home? How did you or your family first arrive there/here?

Leave your story in the comments below and be eligible to win this exclusive MOCA traveling tote! Please include your e-mail address in the appropriate field when you respond and submit your answer before next Monday, June 13, 2011. MOCA Staff will choose a lucky winner who responds with the most compelling story! Open to international readers.

Happy traveling!

This post is part of the blog series by artist Lee Mingwei, whose art project The Travelers, a MOCA commission, is ongoing through September 12, 2011.  In the project, Mingwei invites participants to write down their stories of “leaving home;” in this blog series, we turn to Mingwei and ask him to share his.

Filed under: Exhibitions, Lee Mingwei’s Blog for The Travelers, , , , ,

Lee Mingwei: Finding “pipa” fruit in Portugal

Courtesy of Lee Studio

This post is part of the blog series by artist Lee Mingwei, whose art project The Travelers, a MOCA commission, is ongoing through September 12, 2011.  In the project, Mingwei invites participants to write down their stories of “leaving home;” in this blog series, we turn to Mingwei and ask him to share his. 

(Image courtesy of Lee Studio)

I arrived in Portugal on Tuesday the 19th, mainly doing a site visit in the historical town Guimareas, for a project for the European Capital for Culture 2012.  Guimareas is a lovely city which was founded around the 11th century by the first king of Portugal.  My room looked out to a tiered vineyard and a small church perched right on the hills.  I was constantly reminded of its countryside location with fresh air and the rolling mountain mist.

The residents there were very, very friendly and helpful.  I found pipa fruit– the largest I have ever seen– all over the fruit stands.  They were more tart than I remembered but were imbued with aroma.

The cultural team and I worked for the three days that I was there, trying to figure out the details and the possible location for the Mending Project for September of 2012.  There were quite a few abandoned storefronts within the old city wall; these could be very lovely spot for the project if cleaned up properly.

On Thursday afternoon, took the local train to Lisbon, and stayed with my friends Antonio and Christopher, professors at the university.  They took care of me with great generosity and hospitality.  I met Christopher online when he came across my Male Pregnancy Project few years ago.  Since then, he has included it as one of the core projects for his students.   We took a lovely ride to the southern coast of Lisbon, where we wined and dined on a rustic veranda looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, a magical place indeed.

I am ready to come back now, waiting for my flight in the lounge.  Sleeping in my own bed is such a luxury.

MW

Filed under: Exhibitions, Lee Mingwei’s Blog for The Travelers, , , , ,

Q&A with Lee Mingwei, Part 1: Leaving Home

Courtesy of Lee StudioThis post is Part 1 of a Q&A series with artist Lee Mingwei. Learn more about our ongoing exhibition, The Travelers, here.

(Image courtesy of Lee Studio)

Tell us about your story of leaving home.

I left Taiwan right before my 13th birthday, heading toward another island called the Dominican Republic.  My parents wanted me to leave the country because they didn’t like the idea of me doing military service under a government that was against their political beliefs.  When I arrived in Santo Domingo, I was so taken by the natural surroundings: endless fields of coconut trees, mango groves and sparkling white beaches.  Also, everyone was speaking Spanish, which was a completely foreign language to me. All these fresh new things made  the first departure from my home much less scary and was, actually, quite exhilarating, come to think of it.

What did you carry in your suitcase when you first left home for a long term stay in a country?

I don’t remember any particular item except that my mum placed a cook book by Fu PeiMei, the Taiwanese version of Julia Child.  Oh, yes, other items were several books by San Mao, which were about her life living in the Canary Islands and the Sahara Desert with her husband Jose.

Filed under: Exhibitions, Lee Mingwei’s Blog for The Travelers, , , , ,

Overcoming Puzzle Shame

I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but here it is.

I have never been particularly fond of puzzles.

It gets worse.  I have never been particularly fond of puzzles because I have never been particularly good at puzzles.

Before I dig myself even deeper, let me make a disclaimer:  my faint dislike for puzzles extends mostly to those requiring some (or really, any) semblance of mathematical knowledge or skill.  Crosswords, I love.  The methodical pace, the clearly delineated patterns and more or less defined methods of attack.  Letters in their proper boxes.  Boxes stacking up to form words.  Answers derived from a little sleight of linguistic hand, but nothing that my brain can’t wrap itself around with a little nudge.  And for the ultimate clincher (beware, geek alert), I watched the documentary Wordplay a couple of years ago and never looked back.  The bits with Will Shortz (the NYT Crossword Puzzle Editor) and Jon Stewart are priceless and could make a convert out of anyone. Watch it.

Jon Stewart doing a crossword in his office. Doesn’t get much cuter than that.

But Sudoku.  Now that’s a foreign land.  My brain doesn’t pick its way through digits 0-9 with the same agility as it does through a trove of A-Zs.  Sudoku is a minefield.  Minesweep?  Fuggedaboutit.

When MOCA opened its current exhibition, Chinese Puzzles: Games for the Hands and Mind, I was excited to see that amongst the hundreds of antique pieces wrought from iron and jade, numerous copper and wooden hands-on replicas, there were no numbers in sight.  My mind rejoiced – here was something I could get into.

Yet as I tackled the ingenious rings, the burr puzzle, the tangrams – I began to realize that these puzzles, while not viewable to the naked eye, were full of unseen numbers.  Instead of seeing those 0s and 9s, they had manifested themselves into sides and shapes, counting orders and angles.  Geometry.  Algebra.  NO!  I felt like the kid in Mrs. Fibonnacci’s math class:

From the amazing book that both children AND adults will enjoy: Math Curse, by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith.

I couldn’t extrapolate their meaning beyond the dense fog of latent figures and equations.  I just wanted to see the solutions.  I wanted the pieces to either fall together or to fall apart (depending on the point of the puzzle).  I wanted to have that ‘a-ha!’ moment instantaneously or, I’ll be honest, just have someone tell me the answer.  This is not a moment I’m proud of.

Miring in my self-doubt, wondering how I could have gotten myself into this mess, it began to occur to me that I might have been looking at this all wrong.  While numbers may be a grounding component of these puzzles, and possibly of all puzzles (after all, at a very basic, superficial-level understanding, any person worth their crossword salt knows that a fatal crossword error is to triumphantly pen in an answer, only to realize that you have miscounted and have 1 more empty box to fill), the real fundamental skill in tackling a puzzle is the mental gymnastics you’re willing to subject your mind to in order to get through it.  Visually, I think your brain probably looks something like this (check the clip at around 2:18 in):

Vincent Cassel doing his Nightfox-laser-dance-thing as he breaks into a vault in the movie, Ocean’s 12.

Appropriately, like a sign from above, the New York Times delivered this message into my inbox that very same day:

“It’s all about you, using your own mind, without any method or schema, to restore order from chaos,” Dr. Danesi said. “And once you have, you can sit back and say, ‘Hey, the rest of my life may be a disaster, but at least I have a solution.’ ” MARCEL DANESI, a professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto and the author of ”The Puzzle Instinct: The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life.” (NYT Quotation of the Day, December 7, 2010)

And just like that, I believed.  Reading through the illuminating article, “Tracing the Spark of Creative Problem-Solving,” by Benedict Carey, I began to see puzzles for their capacity to tap into different spheres of our brain, informing us as to how human beings process information, analyze a situation, and develop insight.  Taking it a step further, they can tell us more about how we communicate with one another.

I had been seeing these puzzles, Sudokus and tangrams alike, as insurmountable obstacles as opposed to scalable peaks, wrapped up in the notion that they were only for the mathematically-oriented.  A puzzle boils down to each person’s own predisposition to various methods of synthesizing data, and if that fails, our ability to then stretch beyond our predispositions and find other possible approaches.  This perspective helped diffuse the numerical fog, providing a framework that made it all seem less daunting.

Though I can’t kid myself and say that I suddenly became a puzzle-master and will be registering for the Puzzle Symposium held at MOCA early next year, my sociologically and philosophically-bent mind gleaned a whole new appreciation for their far-reaching applications and significance.

And, dare I say, I’ve grown a bit fond of them.

–Marissa W. Chen, Development Assistant, MOCA

Note: The New York Times did a fantastic series on puzzles and their relevance in contemporary society.  And while it is featured in the Science Times section, much of the content cross-references the intersection of puzzling and art, design, philosophy, and more. I would highly recommend that you check out their plethora of articles and essays, particularly one of my favorites about how to construct the perfect crossword and the thought processes behind it: “An 11-Letter Word for Perfectionist?  Starts with ‘C’”, by Cornelia Dean.

I also highly recommend that you check out the article on the design behind Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s Math Curse, which gets into a whole ‘nother can of worms that I would have loved to explore in this post, but will have to save for another time.


Chinese Puzzles: Games for the Hands and Mind will be showing at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) through May 2011.  Please visit our website, www.mocanyc.org, for upcoming events, programs, and Puzzle Symposium (yes, it’s a real thing).

Filed under: Exhibitions, , , , , , , , ,

An Exhibition for the Eyes, Hands, Mind, and this Holiday Season

This holiday season, the exhibition team is particularly excited to present a tremendously enjoyable and at times challenging exhibition to our visitors. “Chinese Puzzles: Games for the Hands and Mind,” which opened November 6, is the first of its kind on the East Coast and MOCA is proud to host the second-only national viewing of the Yi Zhi Tang Collection. This collection made its public debut in 2008 at the Chinese Cultural Center in San Francisco. In that same year MOCA, then operating at its decade-old site on Mott Street, was first approached about the exhibition and has been working to bring it to New York for the past two years.

Carefully culled by guest curators Wei Zhang and Peter Rasmussen from their Yi Zhi Tang Collection, the over one hundred items on view consist of a wide range of ancient and modern puzzles and puzzle related artifacts found or made in China. It is interesting to note that decades before the first Chinese immigration wave in America (the Gold Rush, 1848-1855), Chinese puzzles had already been brought into this country by China traders from Boston, Philadelphia, and possibly New York. Called “Puzzles for Exports,” these puzzles were made in China with the sole purpose of exporting to the West. For this reason, they can only be found outside of China. Much to their Western patrons’ liking, they are often exquisitely-carved ivory pieces, packaged in lacquer boxes for shipment and storage. In the exhibit at MOCA visitors will find some of the finest examples upon first entering the gallery.

Wei untangling the string of a “ball and cup toy” in the Puzzles for Export case.

So what exactly are Chinese puzzles and how are they different from the puzzles we know in the English-speaking world? For the curators, “[Chinese] Puzzles are usually — but not always — games that are played by oneself, use physical apparatus, and involve arranging, disentangling, putting something together or figuring out a sequence of moves to arrive at a predetermined goal.” While puzzles in the Western hemisphere tend to be associated with science and mathematics and suggest a sense of inevitable difficulty and frustration, the Chinese counterparts allude to more positivity and encouragement. One can arguably find this evident in the Chinese nomenclature of puzzle as a collective category. Technically there is no one term in Chinese that connotes the same layers of definitions and metaphorical significances that the word puzzle does in English. For the tangible object or device whose design presents difficulties to be solved by ingenuity and patient effort, the most commonly used word is yi zhi youxi, literally “enhancing intelligence games”. They are activities of amusement that aim for advancement of one’s brainpower and ingenuity. A connection between the hands and the mind in puzzle playing is accentuated and celebrated, hence the title and design of the exhibition.

Peter and Wei putting together the giant burr puzzle. They are convincing advocates for hands-on experience with puzzles!

As Exhibitions Manager, I have had the great honor and pleasure to handle each piece. The process of installing the show was that of solving the puzzles—literally. On Halloween weekend, while the entire city was cheerfully immersed in the spirit of ghosts and monsters, I sat in the gallery, frowning at many of the antique puzzles, trying to figure out how to piece a Tanagram or a Fifteen-Piece Puzzle together without ready solutions. Made to enlighten but also delight, the select pieces on view manifest outstanding craftsmanship and artistic achievement as much as history, literature, and, in some cases, architecture, and philosophy.

Peter helps solve a tangram puzzle during the installation.

One can and will certainly gasp at their beauty and cultural depth, but the fun is far from complete without an opportunity to try out the puzzles. As Wei says, “puzzles are not puzzles if you don’t play with them.” Taking her advice to heart, we have intentionally orchestrated many interactive displays in the gallery, including a long table featuring sixteen puzzle replicas for hands-on participation which we encourage you to try your hand at. Our curator-trained docents will also be available every weekend to assist visitors with solving the puzzles. Taking too long to solve the puzzle? Check out MOCA store and pick up your favorite puzzles as gifts or for yourself to practice at home! This holiday season, make Chinese-puzzle-solving part of the fun and merriment!

Wei training the docents to solve the puzzles while Peter works in the back on the script of their excellent Curator's Talk on November 6.

Ting-Chi Wang
Exhibitions Manager

*Click here for images of the Member’s Preview of Chinese Puzzles on Peter and Wei’s facebook.

Filed under: Exhibitions, , , , ,

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