Building International Bridges Through the Arts

The primary reason I am so passionate about art is because of its intrinsic universality—no matter one’s background, language, or knowledge, art is something that connects and impacts all people. In fact, it was while studying abroad that I had an encounter that catalyzed the trajectory of my arts career. Ever since, I have been especially interested in studying and pursuing the arts on an international level.

Because of this, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to travel to Beijing with the Arts Administration program over spring break. The purpose of the trip was to create connections, explore partnerships with arts institutions in China, and to connect with MAAA alumni and prospective students. This experience was especially valuable for me because I am currently a graduate assistant at the university’s art museum—the Eskenazi Museum of Art—who also came along on the trip. EMA is currently collaborating with the Tsinghua University Art Museum in Beijing and planning to loan pieces for a future exhibition. I work with the Registrar, who is instrumental in arranging loans and works directly with the objects.

Emily Alumni Dinner

MAAA Alumni Dinner in Beijing 

Not only was the trip means for me to experience the field of arts administration on an international scale, but I was able to see firsthand some of what I have been working on at the museum since I arrived at IU. Many of my classmates have been able to see the physical manifestations of the hard work they’ve been doing at their assistantships, but because the museum is closed, everything has been a little more distant and abstract for me. In China, I was able to tour the museum and the proposed exhibition space, meet the staff, and sit in on discussions about the partnership between the two museums. The work that I have been doing over the course of the past year was finally brought to life.

Tsinghua Courtesy Photo Meeting

Meeting with IU Eskanazi Art Museum, IU SPEA (Arts Administration Program), and Tsinghua Art Museum. Photo courtesy of Tsinghua Art Museum

One of the most fascinating aspects of the trip for me was the dichotomy of the emergence of museums and arts administration in a country that is entrenched in art and art history. This was especially tangibly epitomized at the Tsinghua Art Museum (TAM). The building’s architecture is amazingly beautiful, grand, and modern. And yet inside, it houses a collection that encompasses centuries through a multitude of mediums. It was so interesting to visit a country that is navigating embracing the arts (particularly contemporary) and an evolving arts market.

Tsinghua Courtesy Photo Group

Group Photo of EMA, MAAA, and Tsinghua Art Museum
Photo courtesy of Tsinghua Art Museum

Through my trip to Beijing with MAAA I was able to better understand the types of interactions that happen between not only different arts institutions, but institutions in completely different countries. Furthermore, I now see the work that I am doing at EMA through a completely new lens and it is that much more exciting to me. Despite (or perhaps, owing to) any cultural or lingual barriers I may have encountered, this trip solidified my belief that art weaves the thread that connects everything and everyone.

Emily Eades

MAAA ‘19

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