Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ying Zhu Chin on the Arizona State University Art History Graduate Symposium

Draper student Ying Zhu Chin recently attended the Arizona State University Art History Graduate Symposium. She shares on the experience below:

The 3rd Annual Arizona State University (ASU) Art History Graduate Symposium was held on March 28, 2009, with a theme of "Convergence, Divergence, and Intersection: Movements and Encounters of Cultural Constructions." The symposium was organized around the ASU Art Museum's exhibition of Japanese-American(-Vietnamese) artist Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba's ongoing new work, Breathing is Free, in which Nguyen-Hatsushiba plans to run the diameter of the earth.

Although the symposium was organized by The Council of Graduate Art Historians at ASU, the symposium was receptively interdisciplinary, as evidenced by the diverse papers presented. Mine was the only literature-based paper; I presented on Malaysian writer K.S. Maniam's novel, The Return, addressing the impossibility of immigrants' and their descendants' return to ethnic roots within a transplanted, minority culture in a post-colonial setting. (Thank you, Nicole Rizzuto, for invaluable conference advice!) Other paper topics included an approach to comic books through the lens of anthropology, and the politics of identification in Karaoke. Artists discussed included Rosemary Laing (Australia), Francis Alÿs (Belgium/Mexico), and Rebecca Belmore (Canada), to name three.

Although structured around visual art and art history, the symposium managed to venture outside the confines of disciplines and fields to engage issues of culture, especially those concerning identity politics. I was very glad to be part of a conversation about the "global" issue of identity politics, which was expansive and yet focused, and included contributing viewpoints from many highly specialized fields within the humanities. For me, the best part was the dinner afterward, when exchanges of ideas occurred two ways instead of one. I was also lucky enough to be hosted by ex-Draperite Jo Novelli, who has gone on to be adjunct faculty at ASU. Yay Draper connections!

Ying Zhu Chin is a second semester student at Draper.