Features an interview with MFAH Portal Project Artist Cai Guo-Qiang, whose gunpowder drawing lines gallery walls as the setting for the objects on view
The new Arts of China Gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) opened last fall with the installation of artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s monumental gunpowder landscape, which had been created in a Houston warehouse, and a dozen objects of Chinese art. The installation of the gallery is now complete, with the addition of an interactive, 40” touch screen, finalizing the curator’s vision to engage museum visitors with the art. The accessible, interactive touch screen allows museum visitors to access information about the dozen artworks on view, and to learn about Chinese art and the MFAH Arts of Asia galleries in general.
Users can highlight icons for each of the twelve artworks on view in the gallery. Each icon connects the artwork to detailed information about the piece, its physical position on the world map, its place on a historical timeline, and how it connects to important themes in Chinese art. Touch-screen users can also read material on each theme: Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Painting, Calligraphy, The Scholarly Tradition, and the Non-Chinese Dynasties. Conversely, users can also begin their activity viewing the map, timeline, or a theme and then go on to access the objects.
In addition to these features are two short videos. A Shared Vision features interviews with the late Peter C. Marzio, longtime MFAH director, MFAH Asian art curator Christine Starkman, and Cai Guo-Qiang. The trio describes their vision for the MFAH Arts of Asia galleries and discusses how the presentation differs from traditional displays by combining ancient and contemporary works of art, including Cai’s Odyssey. The second video, The Making of Odyssey, is a chronological video montage of the creation of the massive gunpowder drawing, from design and construction to the lighting of the gunpowder and the installation of the enormous drawing. The videos will also be made available on mfah.org at a later date.
Arts of Asia at the MFAH currently includes displays of Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and
Korean art. The fifth and final gallery will be dedicated to the Arts of Japan and will open in February 2012. The galleries, which are the result of generous donations from international, local, and Asian communities, total about 12,000 square feet and surround Cullinan Hall on the first floor of the Caroline Wiess Law Building.