Each week during the semester, Special Collections hosts multiple class sessions to allow students hands-on access to primary source materials relevant to their course’s subject matter. This week, Professor Xin Wu brought her ARTH 397 students into Special Collections to view facsimile artwork as part of her Chinese Painting class, which is being offered for the first time this fall.
The students are able to interact with the tangible art objects, learn how to open and close handscrolls, and have the opportunity to view full-scale reproductions of artwork held in Taiwan and China that they could otherwise only access through textbooks or digital screens.
During their class session, the students examined a handscroll, Qing ming shang he tu (清明上河圖): Scenes along the river during the Qingming Festival. After having been awarded one of Swem Library’s Collection Grants this past academic year, Professor Wu was able to have the library acquire facsimile artwork, including this scroll, to help support her East Asian art history courses. Swem Library is currently accepting proposals for the 2014-2015 collection grant program through October 31; interested faculty members can apply through their library liaison.
The students also inspected reproductions of ten masterpieces from the Sung dynasty, which feature figures and architectural subjects that were originally painted on round fans held by the National Palace Museum in Taipei. After spending time pondering their selected pieces, each student was asked to interpret his or her selection for the rest of the class, drawing on information from previous classes and readings.
Professor Wu’s class will visit Special Collections this semester for a total of five visits in order to closely examine much of the facsimile Chinese artwork held in Special Collections, acquired through funding provided by the William & Mary Confucius Institute and Center for Research Libraries' Scholars Access Program.