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Asian studies conference features cultural activities

A conference organized by the Asian and Asian American Studies Program will feature a concert and art exhibit along with more than 40 panels and a special workshop for K-12 teachers.

Decentering Asia: Annual Meetings of the New York Conference on Asian Studies will bring hundreds of people to campus on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26 and 27.

The conference’s theme takes advantage of Binghamton’s unusual blend of Asian and Asian American research as well as faculty members’ interest in diasporas, said Professor John Chaffee, director of AAAS.

Gary Y. Okihiro of Columbia University, one of the biggest names in Asian American history, will give an address titled “Spatial (Social) Formations From the Margins.”
Another highlight is an art exhibit titled Contemporary Calligraphics: Three Artists Image the Word, which features the work of alumnus Michael Cherney as well as Pouran Jinchi and Wei Jia.

Curator Nancy Um, assistant professor of art history, built the show around Cherney’s work. The 1991 graduate, who now lives in Beijing, is best known for albums made of xuan paper with a concertina binding. These albums present pho

Michael Cherney, The Northern Song Spirit Road (detail), Bounded by Mountains Series, 2005, photograph on xuan paper, courtesy of the artist.
tographs converted into digital media and then spliced so that lines and edges lose their precision and objects blur into intangible forms. His albums have been acquired for the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as other museums.

“He uses the medium in photography in unexpected ways,” said Um, who called Cherney’s work “extremely compelling.”

Jia, who was born in Beijing, is now based in New York. His canvases feature copies of well-known Chinese calligraphy obscured by pieces of xuan paper. Jinchi, an Iranian-born New York artist, mixes calligraphy and abstract expressionism. Her Alef series explores the Persian alphabet on jewel-like tiles.

“There’s a lot of play,” Um said. “This is fun work.”

Um will lead tours for some groups during the conference, and is willing to coordinate additional group visits afterward.

In addition, the Madrigal Choir of Binghamton will present a concert of Asian music featuring the world premiere of Barry Seaman’s Bhajans, which it commissioned. Seaman, a British composer, and lyricist Nimisha Patel say they drew insp

Pouran Jinchi, Del-D, Alef Series, 2004, Elmer’s glue, ink, varnish on canvas, courtesy of artist and Art Projects International, New York.
iration for the piece from the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu religious text.

The University Libraries are contributing to the multidisciplinary conference as well. Eastern Perspectives: Faculty Publications and Library Collections in Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University, is on display in three locations.

In the Bartle Library’s mezzanine, the exhibit consists of the AAAS program faculty’s publications, along with vernacular materials recently acquired by the Libraries in Chinese, Korean and Japanese. The Libraries’ collection on South Asia, Asian and Asian American studies is also shown here. The exhibit in front of Special Collections (North Reading Room) is a showcase of books on Asian art. The Science Library’s exhibit includes Asian Culture and the Environment, History of Asian Science and Technology and Binghamton University Researchers in Decentering Asia.

The NYCAS event will draw participants from as far away as Taiwan and New Zealand.
The conference is being held in conjunction with Korea Beyond the Peninsula: Re-Centering Korean Studies, Binghamton University’s Korean Studies Symposium.

Wei Jia, Calligrapher No. 51, Yen Zhenqing VIV, 2005, gouache, pastel, xuan paper collage on canvas, courtesy of Schmidt Dean Galley, Philadelphia.

If You Go

Decentering Asia: Annual Meetings of the New York Conference on Asian Studies will be held Oct. 26 and 27 on campus. Highlights include:

• Plenary speakers Gary Y. Okihiro of Columbia University and Elizabeth Perry of Harvard University.

• Asian Voyages, a concert by the Madgrigal Choir of Binghamton that begins at 8 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Anderson Center Chamber Hall. Tickets, which cost $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students, are available by calling 797-4767.

Contemporary Calligraphics: Three Artists Image the Word, an exhibit at the University Art Museum. An opening reception is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Oct. 26 in FA-213. Call 777-2431 to RSVP. The exhibit continues through Dec. 1. Admission is free.

Eastern Perspectives: Faculty Publications and Library Collections in Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University, an exhibit on display in three locations in the University Libraries through the end of the year.

For more details on the conference, visit

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Last Updated: 10/14/08