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Reading and Revolution: A Display Inspired by the Common Read

October 26, 2018
11a–4p
Kemper Art Museum Study Room and Kenneth and Nancy Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library

Chosen as the book for Washington University’s 2018–19 Common Reading Program, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie is a coming-of-age story that takes place during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and ’70s. First-year WashU students will discuss the novel throughout the year and are invited to delve deeper through this display of artworks and books that speak to the novel’s setting and themes.

In the Kemper Art Museum’s Study Room, several artworks from the Museum’s collection will be on view, including selections from The East Is Red (c. 1966–72), a series of paper-cut prints based on the lyrics of China’s unofficial national anthem during the Cultural Revolution, and contemporary artist Thomas Bayrle’s silkscreened construction Sun Yat-sen (Sign for Moon) (2005), a meditation on the first president of the Republic of China. The Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library will feature examples of the Western novels the main characters read in secret and which inspire their life-changing actions.

Image credit

Anonymous Members of a People’s Commune in Fatshan (Chinese), The East is Red, from the series The East is Red, 20th century. Paper-cut print, 24 x 34 3/4". Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis. Gift of David A. Wilson, 1999.