Student-Curated Exhibit Features Objects from Ancient China

chinese artFrom Tomb to Temple: Unearthing Ancient China Through the Vanderbilt University Art Collection, an exhibit organized by the Department of History of Art in conjunction with the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, will open on Thursday, June 19, in Cohen Memorial Hall on the Peabody campus. The exhibit represents the first student-curated exhibit to be displayed in the Cohen gallery.

Origin legends generally offer insights into what people think is most important in their culture. According to the Chinese, man is not the culminating achievement of creation, but is integral to the natural world. Spirituality is found in nature, from the circular dome of heaven wherein celestial bodies revolve, to the earth below on which mountains and rivers were formed. Objects on display in this exhibition represent the divine forces of heaven and earth, gods and ancestors.

China looks back upon the oldest continuous artistic tradition existing in the world today. Other civilizations predated the Chinese, but only in China does a current civilization exist in unbroken continuity for well over four thousand years. Many characteristics of ancient Chinese art have persisted or recurred throughout centuries. This exhibition samples two concentrations that distinguish the holdings of the Fine Arts Gallery: the personalized sculpture of the tomb, and universalized objects of the temple. It is arranged with respect to these subcategories, while emphasizing the relationship among tomb, temple, and divine mountains.

This exhibition, which closes on October 12, is curated by students of the course Exhibiting Historical Art: The Sculptural Traditions of Imperial China—Hana Betts, Corey Bowen, Jessica DeAngelo, Lucy Gonzalez, Emily Grant, Thasin Jaigirdar, Jenna Lindley, Ming Yang Lu, Elisa Marks, Laura Payne, and Alex Penn.

Vanderbilt alumnus Fan Jeremy Zhang, Curator of Asian Art, Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida, will present a History of Art Alumni Lecture and Gallery Talk on October 9 at 4:10 p.m. in Cohen 203. His lecture is entitled “Chinese Funerary Art in its Cultural and Architectural Context.”

Gallery hours (June 19-August 19) are 12-4 pm, Tuesday through Friday; 1-5 pm, Saturday; and closed Sunday and Monday. From August 20-October 12, the gallery will be open from 11 am-4 pm, Monday through Friday; and 1-5 pm, Saturday and Sunday.

Free and open to the public, the Fine Arts Gallery is housed in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, on the western edge of the Peabody College campus. Parking is available in Lot 95 outside Cohen Hall, off 21st Avenue South on the Peabody campus and across from Medical Center East. For further information, please visit

* Horse with Rider, Western Han dynasty (206 BCE-9 CE)
Earthenware with pigment, 13 1/2 x 11 3/4 x 4 1/2″
Gift of Chauncey P. Lowe, 2000

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