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KMA Presents Exhibition by Internationally Acclaimed Artist Ai Weiwei

ai weiweiAi Weiwei, Coca Cola Vase, 1997, vase from Neolithic Age (5000-3000 BCE) and paint, height 11 7/8" x diameter 13" Courtesy André Stockcamp & Christopher Tsai (USA)

KNOXVILLE – Ai Weiwei's: Dropping the Urn (Ceramic Works, 5000 BCE-2010 CE) will be on exhibition at the Knoxville Museum of Art from May 13-August 7, 2011.  This is the first solo exhibition of works by the prominent Chinese artist to be presented in the United States outside of New York. 

Ai Weiwei is perhaps China's most famous contemporary artist. His artworks simultaneously celebrate and call into question Chinese culture and history.

Organized by Arcadia University Art Gallery, Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn features a selection of ceramic works and photographs ranging from 1993 to the present.  In these works, Ai Weiwei transforms ancient ceramic objects, including 7,000-year old Neolithic urns and Han dynasty vessels, by painting them with a "Coca-Cola" logo, dipping them into vats of industrial paint, smashing them on the ground, or grinding them into powder.

The largest piece in the exhibition is what appears to be a large pile of tiny sunflower seeds, a common street snack in China.  Each seed, produced to scale, was painstakingly hand-crafted from porcelain.  Weighing precisely one ton, the porcelain seeds were created by a team of workers in the town of Jingdezhen, China where porcelain has been produced for the past 1,700 years.

KMA Executive Director David Butler emphasizes the importance and timeliness of having this exhibition in Knoxville given the world-wide publicity about the artist's contentious relationship with Chinese authorities: "Ai Weiwei is an artist of tremendous international stature whose work speaks to universal values and human rights and demonstrates the power of art to move us both intellectually and politically."

Ai Weiwei: Dropping the Urn is curated by Richard Torchia and Gregg Moore. The exhibition is organized by Arcadia University Art Gallery and supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibition Initiative.

KMA presenting sponsors include Nancy and Stephen Land. Media sponsors include AT&T Real Yellow Pages, Digital Media Graphix, Kurt Zinser Designs, and WBIR.

Published April 24, 2011

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