Do You Have To Be Chinese To Produce Chinese Art?

Quaker Oats Mao by Zhang HongtuPrinceton University’s Art Museum has a new exhibition called “Outside In”, a showcase to modern Chinese Art. There are six artists featured, and the exhibition suggests that Chinese Art does not need to come from someone who is Chinese ethnically. What’s interesting is that only 3 of the artists are from China, and a fourth is ethnically Chinese, but did not grow up or reside in China, and the remaining two are Vietnamese and Caucasian (described as a New York Jew).

This of course brings up an interesting question of what makes Chinese art, Chinese? Is art any less Chinese because it isn’t produced by someone ethnically Chinese or someone that didn’t grow up in China? Obviously Princeton’s Art Museum is trying to expand the scope of our beliefs by showing neither is a requirement to producing Chinese art. I’ve had Caucasian friends who have told me they thought they were either Chinese in another life, or felt like they should have been born Asian, as it fit their personality, lifestyle, etc. better. Does that qualify someone to claim themselves as Asian?

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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