May 032016


June 6 – September 11, 2016

Exhibition Organizer: Betty Yao

Curators: Michael Schuster

Exhibition Design: Lynne Najita

In cooperation with Wellcome Library, London


Please join us on Sunday, June 5, from 2:00–3:30 p.m. for the Exhibition Gala Opening including bagpipes, Chinese lion dance by Gee Yung International Martial Arts, reception and gallery walk through by visiting curator, Betty Yao.

Please join us on Sunday, June 5, from 2:00–3:30 p.m. for the Exhibition Gala Opening including bagpipes, Chinese lion dance by Gee Yung International Martial Arts, reception and gallery walk through by visiting curator, Betty Yao.

This is the first exhibition devoted to the images of China taken by the Scottish photographer John Thomson (1837-1921). Thomson was a pioneer in photojournalism and one of the most influential photographers of his generation.

In 1862 he travelled to Asia and became interested in its culture and people. Between 1868 and 1872 he returned to the Far East and travelled across China, covering nearly 5000 miles. Here he combined his talents as a photographer of both portraits and landscapes.

He captured monuments and unfamiliar landscapes in his photographs, and was interested in the customs, occupation and appearance of the Chinese people – both rich and poor. Most Chinese people were still unfamiliar with photography, but Thomson was able to communicate with his subjects effectively. As a result, and in contrast to his contemporaries, he portrayed China and its people with sensitivity.

These were the early days of photography, when negatives were made on glass plates that had to be coated with emulsion before exposure.  A cumbersome mass of equipment was required, but with perseverance and energy, Thomson captured a wide variety of images: landscapes, people, architecture, and domestic and street scenes. As a foreigner, his ability to gain access to photograph women was remarkable.

After returning to Britain, Thomson took up an active role informing the public about China through illustrated lectures and publications. In 1920, he wrote to Henry Wellcome, pharmacist, philanthropist, and collector, offering to sell his glass negatives. Thomson died before the transaction could be completed, and Wellcome bought the negatives from Thomson’s heirs in 1921. All images in the exhibition are from the Wellcome Library’s collection in London.Click here

This exhibition seeks to show the great diversity of the photographs that Thomson took in China. What marked his work as special (portraits of the rich and famous aside) was the desire to present an accurate account of China and its people. Thomson wanted to show his audience the human aClick herespects of life in China through his extensive record of everyday street scenes, rarely captured by other photographers of that era.

Additional historic photos of the Hawai’i Chinese community will be exhibited in the dining room adjacent to the gallery. The photos are courtesy of Douglas D.L. Chong and the Hawai’i Chinese History Center.

Click here to download the exhibit handout.

Mar 032016


February 7 – May 22, 2016

Curators: Kathy Foley (Wayang), Patricia Hardwick (Mak Yong), and Michael Schuster
Exhibition design: Lynne Najita

Please join us for the exhibition gala opening on Sunday, February 7, 2:00-3:30pm
which will include a reception and a live Indonesian puppet performance (wayang golek)
by visiting curator Kathy Foley

In traditional Malaysian theatre styles, such as shadow­puppetry (wayang kelantan) and the female dance drama (mak yong), influences from a variety of religions and cultures combined to create unique and distinctive Malay art forms. Through the display of puppets, costumes, instruments, video and photographs, this exhibition offers insight into these complex theatre forms and explores the social issues currently facing traditional Malaysian arts.

These art forms have been recognized by international authorities as “intangible cultural heritage,” which include traditions or living expressions inherited from ancestors, such as oral traditions, performing arts and traditional craft skills. But in recent decades, conservative religious models from the Middle East have introduced rejection of many of the more tolerant traditions of Southeast Asian Islam, prohibiting the representation of human form, banning women and men performing together, and rejecting spirit beliefs and that are part of local genres. This has led to a paradoxical situation in which traditional forms have been banned by authorities in some localities as being as “un-Islamic,” while they continue to be honored as national arts by the Malaysian federal government.

For more detailed background information on the exhibition and Southeast Asian performing arts, download the exhibition handout.

This exhibition is made possible by generous support from Richard H. Cox, The Hawaii Pacific Rim Society, and Aqua-Aston Hospitality.