China: Then and Now

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Historical and contemporary photography focus on China

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –September 17, 2007 — The University of Rhode Island Feinstein Providence Campus is presenting an exhibition that combines historical and contemporary photography this month. The two collections, Exploring the Interior Boxer Rebellion 1903-1904 and Images of China Today, contrast and complement each other. The exhibition runs through Sept. 28.

The exhibition, curated by Steven Pennell, artist-in-residence at the URI campus, is presented in tandem with URI’s ongoing Honors Colloquium, China Rising, which features a series of lectures and events that explore China’s dramatic transformation during the past three decades. Gallery Night is Sept. 20 from 5 to 9 p.m. The gallery is located on the first and second floor of the Feinstein campus, 80 Washington St., Providence.

Exploring the Interior Boxer Rebellion 1903-1904 is a traveling photographic collection by noted geological scientist R. Harvey Sargent who worked in China in 1903 following the Boxer Rebellion. The photographs offer a rare and unique view of the interior of China, which was still distant from western eyes. Retired U.S. diplomat Robert Sargent, a descendent of the scientist, will discuss the collection Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m. during Gallery Night.

In a partnership with the Krause Galley at Moses Brown, part of the Exploring the Interior Boxer Rebellion 1903-1904 is simultaneously being shown at that gallery.

In 1903-1904, native Maine topographer, R. Harvey Sargent conducted field research with two other scientists in China’s interior. Their mission was twofold: search for a specific trilobite fossil, which would represent a significant “missing link” in evolutionary research, and create topographic maps of the areas of China they explored.

In the wake of the Boxer Rebellion, and in the waning days of the Ch’ing Dynasty, the political climate in China was unstable. Westerners entering China’s interior at that time were quite literally taking their lives in their hands. The collection of photographs taken during the mission was found in Sargent’s papers and personal diary. The snapshots are of remarkably good quality and composition; record effectively the young Americans‚ adventure, the dress and demeanor of the Chinese they encountered, and certain of the region’s artifacts and monuments.

The exhibit includes 75 photos, mounted with captions; an example of traditional Chinese calling cards used by members of the mission and Chinese officials they encountered; Sargent’ s diary and other artifacts.

The other part of the URI exhibition, Images of China Today, features contemporary China in photographs by Gurli and Jeff Lovinger and a mixed media exhibit of works from Jun Gao, Xiaomo Hong, Hye Jung Park, Ming Ren, from the perspective of its people.

URI Feinstein Providence Campus Gallery, located on the first and second lobbies, 80 Washington St. Providence. Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m to 4 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Krause Gallery at Moses Brown School, 250 Lloyd Avenue Providence, R.I. 02906. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.