World Arts Education Corporation

Defining Creativity: Uncovering the Truth in Art
A look into the lives and culture of a new generation of Chinese artists
By Caitlin Hennessey, Academic Director for World Arts Education Corporation

The Chinese New-Generation Female Artists are a particularly gifted group of young graduates from the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Academy of Arts and Design at Tsinghua University (CAFA) in Beijing, China. These artists are exceptionally talented young women who have just completed their undergraduate or graduate-level training at China’s most elite art school, as part of the 2019 graduating class. Recognized throughout China and around the world by professional artists, art critics, art collectors, and art enthusiasts alike, this group of female artists are considered to be la crème de la crème of CAFA’s graduating class and are all exemplary artists. Even as students, the young artists of the Chinese New-Generation Female Artists group have that jene sais quoi about their art that is hard to find even in professional works.

Art is their life and who they are. It defines them, continually improves and redefines them, and is the philosophy by which they live. It is the goal by which they set their sights and their hopes on attaining. It is their life’s pursuit. The importance and value of art in their lives is evident and reflected in their styles, personalities, and their unique way of blending the past and present, continually allowing them to reforge their identity and break new barriers, be they long- standing social perceptions, or individual perspectives. Their process of creating art is very different from most artists and sets them apart in terms of their style, originality, technique, and purpose in creating their art. It is this unique process that defines them and their work, marking them as innovative creators, reformists, critics, and visionaries — as professionals.

Through the unique and highly selective art programs at CAFA, these artists have excelled and thrived in the art school’s challenging, often daunting, and highly critical environment, a feat which is next to impossible to achieve. As members of CAFA, these young artists were part of the lucky 5% of students to be accepted into the university to begin studying, and even more fortunate to be able to keep up with the demands of the programming and training required of CAFA students. The fact that they made it to their graduation ceremony is indeed astounding, given the art institution’s rigorous and intimidating curriculum, as only the best of the best are accepted and make it through CAFA’s programming. These students have demonstrated their initiative, dedication, courage, ambition, and commitment to excellence in art scholarship. They also illustrate their passion, motivation, and drive to refine their skills and techniques as artists. This commitment and depth of expertise are noteworthy and commendable. They are worthy of an international audience; their stories deserve our attention — they demand it.

The Chinese New-Generation Female Artists are renowned for their innovative techniques, unique perspectives, and commitment to being true to themselves and their art. Their artwork provokes thought and constantly questions social norms, redefines social expectations, strives to understand female form and identity, and explores the nuances of their cultural heritage and the resulting implications and aspirations for their future. During their time at CAFA, these young artists received experiences they will not find at any other point in their lives, as they were able to continually receive feedback from professional artists, professors, fellow students, and graduates. Each artist was required to spend at least six months working on a multitude of works for their graduation exhibition, as part of CAFA’s graduation capstone course for their respective programs. Although most artists can develop contacts and colleagues in the art world, the network and experience offered through CAFA to these students are not one they will find anywhere else, due to China’s exceptional development of the Arts throughout the country’s long history. Preparing their works for the Tianjin Exhibition was a rare opportunity for these young artists. Through this unique experience, they were able to spend so much time focused on just one series or a few series of works for an exhibition, an experience that most professionals often miss out on in their careers due to the demands of the art world and the nature of the art market. By merely observing their work, it is evident that this experience was invaluable to the art produced by the Chinese New-Generation Female Artists. By understanding their process in developing each work of art, the level of thought, effort, and time devoted to each aspect of their work are apparent to even the novice observer. The artists’ time at CAFA was well spent.

Following the premiere of their work in their graduation exhibition in Tianjin, China, the Chinese New-Generation Female Artists, a group of 18 young women, were selected to feature their art in international exhibitions in Princeton, New Jersey, and in New York City, New York. Beijing UNESCO and World Arts Education Corporation, an international non-profit Arts Education organization, sponsored these shows. In November 2019, Princeton High School’s student-run gallery, the Numina Gallery, along with World Arts Education Corporation, held the Delayed Choice: Chinese New-Generation Female Artists Exhibition, which marked the international debut of these artists and their work. Princeton Public Schools have a long history of excellence in the Visual and Performing Arts and was the perfect venue for the international debut of the Chinese New-Generation Female Artists’ work. The exhibition featured a small portion of the art in the collection and was well-received by the students, faculty, and public in the Princeton area.

Following the Delayed Choice: Chinese New-Generation Female Artists Exhibition, a select group of work by 10 of the 18 artists featured in an exclusive exhibition at the Anderson Contemporary Gallery in New York City as part of the Chinese New-Generation 10 Female Artists Exhibition. This exhibition opened to the public on December 2, 2019, and will only be available until January 30, 2020. Several of the artists were in attendance at the Opening VIP Reception Dinner held on December 2. More recently, World Arts Education Corporation and Anderson Contemporary held a Midwinter Public Reception and New Year Celebration Event in support of the artists and their work. The event, which was open to the public, commemorated the Chinese New Year and symbolically celebrated the beginning of the emerging artists’ professional careers and a new chapter of their lives.
These exceptional young women are the definition of creativity and spirit. Their unique artistry and perception of their history and culture demonstrate their natural presence in the professional art world. Furthermore, it is their devotion to truth and to maintaining their faith in themselves and those around them that they can reveal new facets of themselves and their visions of the world. They are playful and serious in their work, unafraid to bend the rules or to defy social conventions (or art conventions for that matter). They look to reflect upon themselves and the world around them, showing things as they are or how they perceive them to be. They embody what art should be and, in some sense, always has been: insight into human nature and the natural world. To understand their art is to understand themselves and the world in which they live. We are privileged to experience their truth and to be a part of their artistic and truly human journey. Their art tells the story of humanity. Are we ready to listen?