Art and Culture: Chinese New Year Woodblock Prints Exhibition

Celebrating the Year of the Ox

02/10/2021 — 02/28/2021
Power Art Gallery, 25 Power Avenue, Wayne, NJ 07470

Hosted By

The Center for Chinese Art in cooperation with the Art Department and the College of Arts and Communication at William Paterson University

Curated By

Zhiyuan Cong, Professor and Director of the Center for Chinese Art at William Paterson University

Art and Culture: Chinese New Year Woodblock Prints Exhibition

China is known as the birthplace of printmaking. As early as the Han Dynasty (206BC - 220 AD), after the invention of papermaking, historical records show that the first prints were produced from China. Throughout the entire world, the earliest known engraving with a definite date is the title page of the Chinese engraving, Diamond Sutra (868 AD), currently residing in the British Museum’s collection. The heyday of Chinese woodblock New Year prints was in the late Ming (1368 - 1644) and early Qing dynasties (1644 – 1911 AD). Taohuawu in Suzhou, Yangliuqing in Tianjin, Weifang in Shandong, Mianzhu in Sichuan, and Fengxiang in Shaanxi were the epicenters of Chinese Woodblock New Year prints at that time. Among them, Suzhou Taohuawu woodblock prints had a profound influence on Japanese prints. These New Year folk prints indirectly influenced the French post-impressionist painters through Japanese Ukiyoe prints.

The so-called woodblock New Year prints refer to Chinese folk paintings that celebrate the New Year. People celebrate the New Year with the help of woodblock New Year prints, praying for their good wishes: happiness, wealth and longevity. At the same time, they also hope to ward off evil spirits, eliminate misfortune and find peace in the new year. Of course, these prints also help to spread China’s cultural history, and decorate our homes, creating a peaceful and festive atmosphere to welcome the new year.

For this exhibition, The Center for Chinese Art at William Paterson University has loaned 48 individual Chinese folk artworks, dating from the Ming Dynasty up until modern-day China. These works depict door deities, protecting the home, and who many pray to for happiness, luck, and longevity; scenes of men and women busy working, farming, and weaving, reflecting the traditional folk life; Chinese folk dramas that spread historical stories such as Journey to the West, The Female Generals of Yang, Water Margin and so on. At this time when everyone is fighting a global pandemic and trying to stay peace, we hope that everyone can come to appreciate Chinese art, understand Chinese history and culture, practice China’s thousand-year-old folk tradition of replacing old, wooden peach charms with new ones, and abandon all the unpleasantness of the past year in pursuit of success and happiness. Now more than ever, it is important to welcome everyone into happiness, as we all look forward to what next year will bring.

I wish you all a Happy Chinese New Year!

Virtual Opening Reception and Exhibition Tour (Zoom Conference, Registration Required)

02/17/2021, 2:00pm- 3:30pm, Wednesday

Lecture and Presentation (Zooming Conference)

The Cultural Connotation and Artistic Value of Chinese Woodblock New Year Prints

Exhibition Tour (Zoom Conference)

By Zhiyuan Cong

Event is free to the public, but advanced registration is required. To register for the event, please click here. For more information regarding the reception and lectures, please contact the Center for Chinese Art at, (973)720-2799, or visit us our website at

Gallery Hours

During the exhibition, the Galleries is open to the WP community only on Monday - Friday, from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and it is not open to public.

To help ensure physical distancing and a safe, comfortable experience, we will be limiting admission to 12 visitors at a time to view our in-person exhibition. University-affiliated faculty, staff, and students must complete a daily health screening at