Maki Kaneko, June 5

Maki Kaneko, PhD., Associate Professor, The Kress Foundation Department of Art History, University of Kansas

“Inter-Imperial (Bri)Collage”: Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani’s Visualization of Incarceration, Hiroshima and New York City

Discussant: Chelsea Foxwell, PhD., Associate Professor of Art History and the College, Department of Art History

Friday, June 5, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm (CT), Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

Abstract: This presentation focuses on the artist Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani (1920-2012) and explores how his collage-drawings pose a challenge to the normative mode of history writing. Mirikitani was born in Sacramento, California, raised in and trained as a painter in Hiroshima, Japan, and returned to the U.S. at age eighteen. During the Pacific War, Mirikitani was incarcerated and forced to renounce his U.S. citizenship. From the late 1980s, Mirikitani, without acknowledgment of his reinstated U.S. citizenship, lived and made his art on the streets of New York City to survive as well as keep his memories alive. Mirikitani’s interstitial identity as a kibei (the Japanese Americans educated in Japan) and long-term stateless person, trans-Pacific trajectories, and street life in NYC largely shaped his signature art form and practice: a mélange of Nihonga (traditionalist-style Japanese painting) and photo-collage made out of cast-off materials. These works were also created through ad-hoc collaborations with the NYC neighbors and pedestrians who provided the artist with necessary tools or labor. Through this highly entangled art form and unconventional working method, the artist made a bold claim about his legitimate position within mainstream US-Japan history as well as the post-1945 NY art community.  Given his improvised method of collaboration and interstitial identity, I propose to analyze Mirikitani’s collaged works through the two critical conceptual lenses of “bricolage” and “inter-imperiality.” This study thereby considers the radical potentials of Mirikitani’s art which invites us to reimagine the histories beyond the rigid fixities of nation-state and identitarian politics.

Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani, Untitled (Hiroshima), ca. 2001.

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This event is co-sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago.


Maki Kaneko is an Associate Professor in the Kress Foundation Department of Art History at the University of Kansas, where she researches and teaches modern and contemporary Japanese visual arts and the art of Asian Americans and the Asian diaspora. Her publications include the single-authored book Mirroring the Japanese Empire: The Male Figure in Yoga Painting, 1930-1950 (Brill, 2015) and the co-edited volume “Modern & Contemporary East Asian Art,” special issue, Spencer Museum of Art The Register VIII, no. 5 (2019). She also has published the book chapter “Japanese Modern Art History in North America and the Perspective of Asian American Art Studies,” in Taniguchi Fumie Studies (Toyonaka: Ryūshidō, 2018), “War Heroes of Modern Japan: Early 1930s War Fever and the Three Brave Bombers,” in Conflicts of Interest: The Art of War in Modern Japan (St. Louis: St. Louis Art Museum, 2016), and the journal article “New Art Collectives in the Service of the War: The Formation of Art Organizations During the Asia-Pacific War, 1937-1945,” Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 21, no. 2 (Spring 2013). Kaneko is currently working on a book-length study of and an exhibition on Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani and Japanese and Japanese American artists in the post-9/11 era.

Chelsea Foxwell’s scholarship ranges from the medieval through modern periods of Japanese art with special emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. She is the author of Making Modern Japanese-Style Painting: Kano Hōgai and the Search for Images (2015). In 2012 she co-curated the exhibition Awash in Color: French and Japanese Prints with Anne Leonard at the Smart Museum of Art. Her work focuses on Japan’s artistic interactions with the rest of East Asia and beyond, nihonga and yōga (Japanese oil painting); “export art” and the world’s fairs; practices of image circulation, exhibition, and display; and the relationship between image-making and the kabuki theater. A member of the Committee on Japanese Studies and the Center for the Art of East Asia, she is a contributor to the Digital Scrolling Paintings and the Reading Kuzushiji projects.


Zhenru Zhou, May 29

Zhenru Zhou, PhD candidate, Department of Art History

“Hexi Buddhist Landscape in the Making: From a Dunhuang Colossal Buddha Image to the Nine-Story Pavilion”

Discussant: Jiayi Zhu, PhD student, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Friday, May 29, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

Abstract: The colossal Buddha image is one of the major visual elements in the Buddhist landscape across South, Central and East Asia. The Northern Colossal Image (beidaxiang 北大像) of the Mogao Caves (Dunhuang, Gansu), created in 695 CE, is often regarded as such a production of “the Second International Buddhist Style” whose other name is “the Imperial Style of Tang China”. This paper, however, complicates this static view by asking what the Mogao Colossal has visually, physically, and conceptually evolved into since the Tibetan (781-850) and the Guiyijun periods (851-1036). It investigates the ways in which the Mogao Colossal has engaged with the spectacles of Buddhist caves and auspicious images (ruixiang 瑞像) at regional and local scales—namely, along the Hexi or Gansu Corridor, at the Mogao complex, and in the vicinity of the Mogao Colossal. I argue that the Mogao Colossal, as the production of a series of image-making and story-telling, was remade for the purpose of reviving and relocating the legendary Buddhist landscape from the ancient Liangzhou (present-day Wuwei, Gansu) to the contemporary Dunhuang. This study examines a variety of visual materials, ranging from medieval and modern visual representations of Buddhist caves and landscapes, to archaeological evidences at the Mogao Caves and the Tiantishan Caves (Wuwei) that were excavated or published at the turn of the 21st century. By critically and creatively engaging with these materials, this study hopes to shed new light on the coming-into-being of the elaborate architectural traditions of the Mogao Caves, as the Mogao Colossal is now more popularly known as “the Nine-Story Pavilion” (jiuceng lou 九层楼).

The vicinity of the Northern Colossal Image Cave, the Mogao Caves (Dunhuang, China). Various sources, photocollage by author.

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Zhenru Zhou studies religious art and architecture in China and beyond, with a focus on the medieval Buddhist cave-temples in Northern China. She received an M. Arch degree from Princeton University in 2016, and another M. Arch and a B. Arch degree from Tsinghua University (China). Her dissertation project, titled “Between the Virtual and the Real: A New Architecture of the Mogao Caves (Dunhuang, China) in 781-1036 CE,” explores the complexity of cave architecture regarding its hybrid materiality and visuality, construction and reconstruction over time.

Jiayi Zhu is PhD student at the East Asian Languages & Civilizations Department. Her area of study is Medieval China, Japan and Korea. Jiayi received her BA from Middlebury College (Anthropology and Environmental Studies) in 2014, and her MA from Columbia University (East Asian Buddhism) in 2017. Her research focuses on Esoteric Buddhism and Buddhist art in East Asia from 7th to 10th century.


Boyoung Chang, May 22

Boyoung Chang, PhD., Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Art History

“Reconstructing the Nation: contemporary Korean photography since the 1990s”

Discussant: Tingting Xu, PhD candidate, Department of Art History

Friday, May 22, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

Abstract: This presentation discusses the photography of South Korean photographers, focusing on the medium’s relationship with the political and societal changes in and around the country that started in the late 1980s. Focusing on art photography that took various formats from documentary to the performative, encompassing the staged, portraits, and snapshots, it addresses the development of a medium that is intertwined with the transformation of Korean society. Represented with democratization and globalization, South Korea reorganized its political system and opened its doors to the world in this era. I argue that the transformation of contemporary Korean art photography is not only a reflection of this essential reconstruction of the nation’s identity but that of the medium itself, with its performative nature, mediating the process. The exploration starts from the early practices of the mid-20th century Korean photography and moves on to the thematic discussions of how contemporary photography addressed the key issues that mark the transition. When the long history of military dictatorship ended and democracy arrived in Korea, the nation reestablished its identity by declaring a break from the past, refashioning its history, and building new relationships with other countries, including North Korea. This research argues that the history of Korean photography parallels these shifts. Unlike the photographers of the past, contemporary photographers, with newly obtained freedom and various photographic languages, revisited the repressed history, reinterpreted official history, and deconstructed it according to the changed socio-political climate. As the state-led globalization transformed Korean identity into the international context, Korean photography too went through the process of challenging the preexisting notions and striving to position itself in global photography. Fully incorporating the social, political, and cultural history of Korea and the surrounding international contexts, this research takes an interdisciplinary approach in articulating the history of the nation’s photography. With an emphasis on a need to contextualize artistic practices into its society, it improves the understanding of contemporary Korea and its photographic practices.

Suntag Noh, Forgetting machines, 2005-2011


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Boyoung Chang is a postdoctoral researcher in the Center for the Art of East Asia in the  Department of Art History. She specializes in contemporary Korean photography with a particular interest in how the history of Korean photography intertwines with the nation’s dynamic modern and contemporary history. Chang earned her doctorate at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her dissertation, “Reconstructing the Nation: Contemporary Korean Photography since the 1990s,” that she discusses today focused on how Korean art photography developed in parallel with the transformation of South Korea since the late 1980s. Her teaching and research interests also include the aftermath of World War II, the impact of the Cold War, globalization, and cultural identity seen through contemporary Asian art and photography.

Tingting Xu is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the history of photography in China, and the intercultural and intermedial practices of Chinese artists in early modern and modern periods.  Her first Chinese book, Niche: In or Out – Interviews and Perspectives on Contemporary North American Photographic Artists, written when she was a MFA student at the Parsons School of Design, won two author’s prizes in China. She works as an assistant curator at the Peabody Essex Museum in 2018, helping organizing a coming major exhibition on nineteenth-century photographs of China. She is a recipient of The Mellon International Dissertation Research Fellowship (2018-2019), and the Joan and Stanford Alexander Award of the Houston Museum.


Sun, Bo. May 8

Sun, Bo. PhD., Visiting Scholar, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University; Associate Research Professor and Director of Science and Art Office, Exhibition Department in the National Museum of China

“A Complimentary Study of shuilu-hua (the Painting of Water-and-Land Rituals) in Qinglong Temple (Temple of Blue Dragon) in Jishan County (Shanxi, China) (稷山青龙寺水陆画考补)”

Discussant: Tao, Jin. Master’s student, Divinity School

This talk will be delivered in Chinese.

Friday, May 8, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

Abstract: The “Water-and-Land Ritual” (shuilu fahui水陆法会) was one of the most elaborated Buddhist rites developed in China for the universal salvation of the deceased and all sentient beings. The “Water-and-Land Painting” (shuilu hua 水陆画), which is an indispensable visual aid to this ritual, was often painted in Buddha halls or on hanging scrolls. It is one of the major subject matters of Chinese Buddhist painting since the Middle Periods. Among the numerous Water-and-Land Paintings that exist in China, the earliest example is a mural circle in the Middle Buddha Hall of the Qinglong Monastery (the Monastery of Blue Dragon), which was painted during the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368). The Qinglong mural preserves many early features of the Water-and-Land Painting, such as a special and rigorous composition. The Qinglong mural, which differs from later paintings of the Ming (1368–1644) and the Qing periods (1644–1911), deserves a comprehensive case study. Since the publication of the author’s Master’s Thesis titled “A Study of The Mural Paintings in The Qinglong Monastery in Jishan County — With a Focus on The Water-and-Land Painting in The Middle Hall” (稷山青龙寺壁画研究——以腰殿水陆画为中心) in 2010, several North American scholars have conducted new researches based on the author’s primary study. In the past decade, gladly, new evidences have been found. These evidences not only approve some of the author’s theses, but also allow him to elucidate some painting details that initially appeared obscure. In these seemingly trivial details, the author finds a new approach to the meanings and the historical developments of the Water-and-Land Painting. In this talk, he will discuss five of the important details that shed light on the Qinglong mural and the genre of the Water-and-Land Painting.

A detail of the Water and Land mural painting, southern wall, the Middle Buddha Hall of the Qinglong Monastery, Yuan dynasty.


You can download Sun Bo’s pre-circulated materials here with the password shuilu.

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Dr. Sun, Bo is an Associate Research Professor and Director of Science and Art Office, Exhibition Department in National Museum of China. Since 2010, he has participated in curating a series of exhibitions hosted by the National Museum of China ranging from ancient archaeology to contemporary art. In terms of research, his academic interests focus on Chinese religious art after the tenth century, and material and visual culture exchange in Eurasia. As a visiting scholar of CAMLab, he currently engages in three research or exhibition projects including paintings used for shuilu rites (水陸法會), and visual representation of Avatamsaka Sutra and Chan’an of Tang dynasty.

Tao, Jin is a 2nd year MA student at the Divinity School University of Chicago, and also a practicing architect based in Beijing. Jin’s previous architectural projects mainly attribute to religious typology, especially a few Taoist temples in the sacred mountain in the south of China. His research interests cover the comparative study between Jewish and Taoist theology, ritual practice of ancient Chinese religions, and the sacred space generated by the body concepts, ritual actions, religious thoughts, and social structures. His current book in progress is The Covenant: The Religious Ethos and Conferral Liturgy of Taoist Register.

Yoon-Jee Choi, April 17

Yoon-Jee Choi, PhD student, Department of Art History

          “Time Shall Not Mend: Establishing the Lineage of Tsugi 継ぎ[Japanese Ceramic Repair]”

Respondent: Sizhao Yi, PhD student, Department of Art History

Friday, April 17, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

Abstract: While plenty of instructions and discussions have been created on tsugi 継ぎ [Japanese repairing pottery with lacquer often mixed with metal substance​], a pivotal trend appears among them: most of them are grounded in the arcane Orientalism of Zen Buddhism, Japanese tea ceremony culture, and wabi-sabi. The previous discourses strongly restrict the spectrum of research on the technique in two ways and, concerning this problem, this presentation aims to open a new path for an extensive research on tsugi by directly engaging these issues. First, the act of tsugi has long been overshadowed by the excessive emphasis on kin 金 [gold] of kintsugi. There are various types of breakage or flaws on ceramic wares not surprising considering their fragile nature. However, not all blemishes or all ceramic wares became the object of tsugi and, even when the technique was applied, various mediums were adopted for mixing with the lacquer adhesive, including silver powder, red lacquer, and black lacquer. Thus, I will concentrate on the act of tsugi rather than kin to discuss why particular ceramic pieces and flaws were chosen to be restored with diverse mediums, and to study how this trend has transformed throughout the history. The other issue relates to tsugi’s secular aspect; past researchers have disregarded the tastes of tea masters, closely intertwined with shogunal governments, under the shadow of Zen Buddhism. The predilection of the major Japanese premodern tea masters, Sen no Rikyū千利休 (1522-1591) and his disciple, Furuta Oribe 古田織部 (1543-1615), for “aleatory aesthetics” and furthered the technique to a distinct style. This talk will research on the rise and development of tsugi within the Japanese shogunal culture from the 16th century to the Edo Period 江戸時代 (1603-1868). Overall, I concentrate on building the “tsugi lineage” anchored in tea masters and their meticulous selection of vessels, cracks, and the specific techniques from the 16th to 19th century.










Teabowl, named shumi (Mountain Sumeru), and Jūmonji (Cross), Joseon Dyansty (1392-1910), Mitsui Bunko Foundation, Tokyo.


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Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou ( and Yin Wu (


Yoon-Jee Choi is a Ph.D. student whose research revolves around material culture, craftsmanship, and inter-regional dynamics of premodern East Asian art history, particularly concentrating on Korea and Japan. She received her BA in Division of International Studies and History of Art from Ewha Womans University. She has completed her coursework for her MA in History of Art and is currently working on her thesis on Korean monkey paintings during the late Joseon Dynasty. She has interned for the National Museum of Korea and worked as a research assistant for the Asian Museum Institute in Seoul. In 2019 summer, her recent interest in maritime artifiacts led to a summer internship at National Research Institute of Maritime Cultural Heritage of Korea.

Sizhao Yi is a PhD student in East Asian art and material culture with a particular interest in objects from late imperial China. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong in 2016, and her MA from the University of Chicago in 2017. Her master’s thesis examined two embroidered jackets excavated from an imperial tomb of the Ming Dynasty, which she encountered during her internship at the textile conservation department in the Archeology Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.