Week 20: Meridian International Center

From the exhibit flier: Meridian International Center’s mission is to strengthen international understanding and serve as a center of innovation for engaging the public sector, private sector and diplomatic community in an exchange of people, ideas and culture.

Meridian’s website further states:

Meridian’s Art for Cultural Diplomacy program creates opportunities for Washington, DC, national and international audiences to learn about other cultures through the eyes of visual and performing artists. Our exhibitions have traveled to 50 countries and 320 cities in 44 U.S. states.

This mission of cultural exchange is reflected in Meridian’s current art exhibition, CHINA Town: Contemporary Ceramic Painting from Jingdezhen. The artists’ works have a strong sense of place in that they come from, and show a great respect for, the “capital of Chinese ceramic,” Jingdezhen. Artists featured here went to Jingdezhen to study and practice their art, in one case hailing from Seattle, Washington. An exchange of ideas also manifests itself in the artists’ blending of old and new techniques and themes. The majority of the pieces take a form that is unfamiliar to me: flat porcelain surfaces painted and framed in the manner of painted canvasses.

Detail, Studying on a Cold Night by Xu Ying. At Meridian International Center

Detail, Studying on a Cold Night by Xu Ying. At Meridian International Center

On the very cold day I visited, I found myself staring the longest at the winter scenes, such as Fang Yuan’s Twilight and Xu Ying’s Studying on a Cold Night. And then there was Winter (along with Spring, Summer, and Autumn) by Liu Zheng. Each shows a chaotic, jigsaw-like repetition of human forms. Spring’s green figures are standing upright and looking down; Summer has yellow forms that appear to walk on their hands and direct their gaze at each other; Autumn’s orange figures might be crawling on all fours; and Winter has bluish gray figures who seem to look outward and up, hands in a prayer-like gesture. (This description of Liu Zheng’s work is my own interpretation.)

Summer by Liu Zheng. At Meridian International Center

Summer by Liu Zheng. At Meridian International Center

Meridian is the tenth and final Dupont-Kalorama Museum Consortium museum that I have visited. The complete list can be found here.


About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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