Ancient Ink, Contemporary Concerns in ‘Between the Mountains’

Exhibition features work by Irene Chou, Zhang Daqian, Li Hua-sheng, Yun-Fei Ji, Li Keran, Qiu Mai (Michael Cherney), and Yang Yongliang

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (January 8, 2020) — The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College presents Between the Mountains from January 25 through April 12, 2020, a student-curated exhibition that brings together contemporary artists who depict Chinese landscapes through the medium of ink.

For the past two thousand years, ink has been the predominant medium in Chinese art and calligraphy. Between the Mountains explores the way a selection of contemporary Chinese artists investigates the enduring concerns and symbols of landscape art called shanshui (山 水, literally “mountain-water”), while also engaging with urgent contemporary issues such as increased urbanization, globalization, climate change, and the role of culture and tradition in the modern world.

Artist Yun-Fei Ji’s Bon Voyage, 2002, resembles a traditional painting of the Yangtze River. On closer examination, however, details reveal grotesquely oversized insects, crashed vehicles, and people in hazmat suits, which raises questions about the role of human intervention in nature and the drastic environmental and human cost of China’s rapid industrialization.

Yang Yongliang’s Before the Rain, 2010, uses digital editing, collage, and animation to create a video that appears like an ink-drawn landscape. However, the “mountains” are actually layers of concrete buildings and scaffolding, and the “trees” are electrical towers and cranes, which suggests that China’s fast-paced urban development has replace the natural with the artificial in a way that makes it difficult to discern the difference between the two.

Other artists with work on view in Between the Mountains are Irene Chou, Zhang Daqian, Li Hua-sheng, Li Keran, and Qiu Mai (Michael Cherney).

Between the Mountains is the capstone project for Serena Hildebrandt ’20, an Art History and Psychology double major and the 2018–19 Carole Marchand ’57 Endowed Intern. Her exhibition continues the Tang’s tradition of supporting Skidmore student’s curatorial projects, offering hands-on professional experience as they pursue their own intellectual concerns.

For more information, call 518-580-8080 or visit

Related Events

Opening Reception
The exhibition’s opening reception will be Saturday, Feb. 1, at 5 p.m., in conjunction with the Tang’s other spring exhibitions: Elevator Music 40: Melissa Thorne — Landslide/Solid, Mary Weatherford: Canyon–Daisy–Eden, and Nicole Cherubini: Shaking the Trees.

Curator’s Tour
Serena Hildrebrandt will be giving a curator’s tour of the exhibition on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at noon.

About the Tang

The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College is a pioneer of interdisciplinary exploration and learning. A cultural anchor of New York’s Capital Region, the Tang’s approach has become a model for university art museums across the country — with exhibition programs that bring together visual and performing arts with interdisciplinary ideas from history, economics, biology, dance and physics to name just a few. The Tang has one of the most rigorous faculty-engagement initiatives in the nation, and a robust publication and touring exhibition program that extends the museum’s reach far beyond its walls. The Tang Teaching Museum’s award-winning building, designed by architect Antoine Predock, serves as a visual metaphor for the convergence of art and ideas. Admission to the museum is free (donation suggested). Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., with extended hours until 9 p.m. Thursday.

Media Contact
Michael Janairo
Head of Communication
Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College

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