Celebrating Lunar New Year: the Year of the Ox

William Paterson University Hosts a Virtual Zoom Lecture on Chinese Woodblock New Year Pictures


Hosted By

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

To celebrate the Chinese Year of the Ox, the Center for Chinese Art at William Paterson University held and exhibition titled "Art and Culture: Chinese New Year Woodblock Prints" and hosted an accompanying lecture called "The Cultural Connotation and Artistic Value of Chinese Woodblock New Year Pictures" on February 17th. In the web-based lecture, Professor Zhiyuan Cong, director of the Center for Chinese Art, was the keynote speaker. Participants included faculty and students from William Paterson University and nearly 60 scholars and art lovers from the United States, Europe and China.

Dr. Richard Helldobler, President of William Paterson University; Dr. Joshua Powers, Vice President and Provost; Chunmei Chen, Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Consulate General in New York; and Margaret Lam and David Yen, Honorary Directors of the Center for Chinese Art attended and delivered a speech. Dr. Loretta McLaughlin Vignier, Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Communication at William Paterson University, hosted the lecture.

Dr. Helldobler wished everyone Chinese New Year blessings. He pointed out: “For more than a decade, the Center for Chinese Art under the energetic leadership of Professor Cong has made William Paterson a leader in the global efforts to preserve and share China’s rich artistic history through exhibitions, lectures, international study tours, and integrating the traditions of Chinese art into our curriculum.” He further emphasized that this pandemic has clearly demonstrated that the world is more closely interconnected than we once imagined. Therefore, understanding each other’s needs more important than ever.

Dr. Powers pointed out: “The Center for Chinese Art is a unique treasure at William Paterson University and, in the spirit of the Ox, simply refuses to let distraction like a pandemic get in the way of delivering its four-fold goals: […] to integrate Chinese art into the curriculum of American universities; to build a long-term platform for American students to learn and study Chinese art practices and theories; to open a window to the broader community on the richness of Chinese art on the East coast of the United States; and to further a better understanding between the two peoples.”

Chunmei Chen added, “Under the strong support of William Paterson University and dedicated patrons like Margaret Lam, David Yen, and Mr. Ip-Wing Kong, the Center for Chinese Art has become a platform for promoting cultural understanding and people-to-people exchange between China and the United States. There is no doubt that cultural understanding can help place a solid foundation for our relations and facilitate our cooperation in all areas. Therefore, the contribution made by the Center for Chinese Art has been highly appreciated by both sides.” She also discussed how Chinese culture is rooted in the 5,000-year history of the Chinese nation. Its history belongs not only to China, but also to the world. Ms. Chen hoped that the lecture would open a window to explore Chinese culture.

Margaret Lam and David Yen expressed their gratitude to William Paterson University and the Chinese Consulate General in New York for their support to the Center for Chinese Art. They praised Professor Cong for leading faculty and students to make outstanding contributions to the development of the Center, and said that they are honored to be members and will continue to support the Center for Chinese Art.

In the lecture, Zhiyuan Cong made an in-depth and detailed introduction and analysis of the historical origins of Chinese woodblock prints, the historical and cultural connotation of Chinese New Year pictures, the rise and fall of Chinese woodblock print history and its internal and external reasons, and the classification of Chinese woodblock prints. He also discussed the historical position and role of Chinese woodblock New Year pictures in Chinese art and the influence of Chinese woodblock New Year pictures on contemporary art. He compared, demonstrated, analyzed and explained the theoretical philosophy of Chinese woodblock New Year pictures in terms of composition, structure and color particularly with Western Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism. His presentation was rich in pictures and texts, the speech was interesting and vivid, the historical context was clear, the amount of information was considerably large, and the professional knowledge ran deep; all the while still easy to understand and receiving very positive feedback and praise from the audience. He also introduced the "Art and Culture: Chinese New Year Woodblock Prints" exhibition, which is currently on display at William Paterson University. After the lecture, the audience asked imaginative questions about the influence of the theories of two-dimensional space and three-dimensional space on modern art, Chinese woodblock New Year pictures and Japanese Ukiyo-e, and the influence of Chinese woodblock New Year pictures on Chinese painting in the 20th century. It was very professional and interesting, and Professor Cong gave satisfactory answers one by one.

Chinese woodblock New Year pictures express the Chinese people's beautiful yearning for happiness, health and a prosperous life, with the implication of eliminating and avoiding evil, which fits the current situation of fighting the new corona virus pandemic. Professor Cong sincerely wishes everyone a happy new year and a good Year of the Ox!

For details about the exhibition, please check the Center for Chinese Art at William Paterson’s website at wpunj.edu/ccart, email: ccart@wpunj.edu or phone: (973) 720-2799.