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January 9, 2021

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Online alliance launch connects art world

SHANGHAI Academy of Fine Arts of Shanghai University last week launched an International Art Education Union Cloud Community as a strategy to cope with the continued threat of the coronavirus during the post-pandemic era.

“Internationalization is a process to achieve in-depth intercommunication and harmony in diversity. It is to make our own stories reveal new vitality on a global stage,” said Zeng Chenggang, dean of Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts. “To make the haipai (Shanghai style) culture recognized abroad, and to carry forward an updated spirit with a global strategy, we need the cloud community as a platform for culture and art exchange, display and experiment.”

About 433,000 people from home and abroad were online to participate in the launch ceremony, which witnessed the opening of the first online exhibition “East and West” from nine international art academies.

Jin Jiangbo, deputy dean of the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, said that members of the union are expected to join hands and complement each other, to make communication a source of creativity, and to achieve the ideal of “thinking what you haven’t thought, seeing what you haven’t seen, doing what you haven’t done.”

The cloud community will become an experimental center of diversified teaching and learning for art students worldwide, who can share online exhibitions and lectures by famous artists, jointly carry out academic researches and attend training courses using multiple methods, including virtual and in-person visits and exchange programs.

The maiden online exhibition “East and West,” which can be seen at, features works of teachers and students from several cities throughout the world, including San Francisco, Tokyo, Rome, Florence and Shanghai.

They include works of art in the traditional subjects, such as painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, fiber, glass, ceramics, wood and metal, and the latest achievements in the innovative branches, such as experimental art, design, new media and artificial intelligence.

“By comparing works from different academies, we aim to open up discussion on the distinction and the difference between Eastern and Western education in art, so as to re-examine the trajectory of art development in the modern era, to deepen understanding among participants and create ties between artist and communities,” said Ma Lin, one of the curators with the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts.

Professor Emeritus David Frazer addressed the audience at the opening from San Rafael, California. He has chaired the painting department of Rhode Island School of Design in 12 of his 42 years’ teaching, before retirement.

“My work is influenced by Italian and Chinese art because I have the opportunity to travel and live in both countries,” said Frazer, who mentioned his visits to Rome and Beijing in the 1990s. “2020 has been a difficult year. It has been easy to lose hope. But I want to remind you there is still beauty all around us. We as art educators shall do our best.”

Ming Ren, assistant to the president of San Francisco Academy of Fine Arts, traced the history of academic exchanges and staff visits between the two academies back in the early 1980s.

“In 1988, Fred Martin held his first solo exhibition at the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, and more have followed since 2000. During his time, the then dean also shared his creative and teaching skills in the fields of leadership in art, education, writing and experimenting in various media, which, in a sense, helped the Shanghai academy to establish a doctoral program for international students in 2018 — the highest level for an art major in China,” Ren said.

Akimoto Takayuki, professor of oil painting techniques and materials at the Tokyo University of the Arts, also participated in the opening ceremony via the Internet and gave a speech praising the innovative initiative of Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts.

Different from previous online exhibitions, this project embraces the concept of “island” for the visual design of the viewing experience and display, with each island representing an academy. The increase of works on show, change in teaching practices and updated information related to academic research on the islands will result in the evolving appearance of islands accordingly within the cloud community.

Art educators and learners can conduct free exploration of the exhibits on the island, to understand the teaching philosophy and teaching results of each of the colleges, so as to lay down their own plans for further academic exchanges and forms of exhibitions in the coming years.

“Through the data-driven calculation and design of the exhibition viewing route, we create a customized and privatized path for each viewer,” said Li Qiansheng, a curator with the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts. “This exhibition, with no definite deadline, is an experiment and also an exploration to workflow in the future. We aim for a free, self-growing space.”


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