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Asian Arts Council 2021-22 General Meeting Lectures

Each month the Asian Arts Council presents a program featuring a distinguished scholar, curator, collector or Asian arts enthusiast of note. We meet the last Thursday of the month in the Museum’s Boardroom at 1:00 p.m. and begin with a brief business meeting before the lecture. Meetings are FREE FOR EVERYONE on Zoom. Donations are welcome to help bring speakers to our members. (In person lecture meetings are free for AAC members, only $10 for Museum members, $12 for non-members and $8 for students).

Archives: Lectures by fiscal year

Click on a date line below for a lecture summary from the Asian Arts Council Newsletter

Jul. 29 - 1:00 p.m. New Fragrances: The Huntington’s Expanded Chinese Garden Phillip E. Bloom, June and Simon K.C. Li Curator of the Chinese Garden and director of the Center for East Asian Garden Studies at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA

Huntington Garden Liu Fang Yuan (the Garden of Flowing Fragrance)—located on the grounds of the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA—is arguably the finest Suzhou-style scholar’s garden outside of China. In the fall of 2020, the garden celebrated the opening of several new features, including a dramatic courtyard for the display of penjing (miniature trees similar to bonsai), intricate pavilions, and winding corridors. As the pandemic is gradually tamed, an art gallery and scholar’s studio will soon open to the public, as well. This lecture will introduce the garden’s new features and elucidate the insights that they provide into Chinese garden history.

Aug. 26 - 1:00 p.m. Meiji Modern: 50 Years of New Japan Bradley Bailey, Ph.M., Ph.D., MBA, Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Curator of Asian Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, HoustonPh.M., Ph.D., MBA


Japan’s Meiji Period (1868-1912) marked a period of drastic transformation to Japanese society, the economy, military, education, gender roles, and much more. At the center of this transformation was Japanese art and craft, which re-imagined traditional Japanese motifs and themes, simultaneously showcasing the country’s storied past and its thoroughly modern present, as the feudal shogunate moved toward constitutional monarchy. The artwork of the Meiji Period, as both artistic and technological achievement, is unrivaled in its intricate detail, technical mastery, precious materials, and inventive adaptation. This lecture offers a preview of some of the standout objects from the upcoming exhibition, Meiji Modern: Fifty Years of New Japan, in celebration of the Japanese Art Society of America’s 50th anniversary. Co-curators Bradley Bailey (Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Curator of Asian Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) and Chelsea Foxwell (Associate Professor, History of Art and Architecture, University of Chicago) have scoured the United States, relying on collections both public and private, to find works of art that present the Meiji Period in a new – and modern – light.

Sep. 30 - 1:00 p.m. Butterflies on Chinese Art with a Special Focus on Chinese Snuff Bottles  Clare Chu, International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, Secretary and Journal Editor, curator of snuff bottle exhibitions including the current exhibition in Taipei with more than 750 snuff bottles  

Butterfly snuff bottleThere are over 1,300 species of butterflies in China today. As a species they are one of the most biologically diverse. Today in China there are active societies studying butterflies with many members who are lepidopterists (someone who studies or collects butterflies and/or moths). This lecture looks at the materials that are used to depict butterflies such as porcelain, amber and lacquerware, and analyses the symbolism inherent in the decoration of these pieces. It also examines the ‘dreaming’ story from the philosopher Zhuangzi whose seminal text is also entitled Zhuangzi. It is one of the foundational texts of Chinese literature and philosophy. Later interpretations of dreams in the Chinese literary tradition drew on this strange and radical story where the philosopher Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly but awoke wondering if he was a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi.

Clare Chu has worked in the field of Chinese snuff bottles for almost forty years, and is the secretary and a director of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society. This year, Chu became the editor of the Society’s Journal. Chu continues to work as a scholar-dealer, focusing on the development of collections with their owners, and as a lecturer and teacher. Chu has curated a number of museum exhibitions of snuff bottles, one in 2016 at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles and, another, in 2018 at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. She is presently curating an exhibition of over 750 bottles to be held in late October at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei for which she has written three fully-illustrated catalogues. The exhibition is entitled “A Courtly Gathering of Qing Treasures: Chinese Snuff Bottles from Taiwanese Collections.” Chu is also a published poet, who often draws upon her knowledge of Asian art for inspiration.

Oct. 28 - 1:00 p.m. Half the World: Shah ‘Abbas and the Splendor of Isfahan  Dr. Elaine Pierce, Docent and AAC member  


In the early 17th century, Isfahan was one of the most modern and beautiful cities in the world, attracting diplomats and merchants from across Europe and Asia. During this “Golden Age of Persia,” Shah ‘Abbas transformed his beleaguered nation-state into a military and mercantile powerhouse - and he did so despite a relative lack of natural resources. As discussed in this talk, silk and ceramic arts were raised to new levels and served as a major means to regain power and influence. Islamic architecture, gardens and poetry will also be discussed.

Jan 27 - 1:00 p.m.         

A summary of this lecture will be posted here the month after the lecture is given.

Feb 24 - 1:00 p.m.         


Mar 31 - 1:00 p.m.      


Apr 28 - 1:00 p.m.      


May 26 - 1:00 p.m.      


Jun 30 - 1:00 p.m.      

A summary of this lecture will be posted here the month after the lecture is given.