Connections in Art


Sister Baulu Kuan at The Catholic University of Peking

(in Beijing, China)

In 1985, art professor Sister Baulu returned to the College of Saint Benedict from China, where she had taught at many universities for a year. She taught Western art, culture, and aesthetics. Sister Baulu was one of the first scholars/artists invited to teach art in China following the end of the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976. She fostered connections through the arts, working to bring one of SJU’s artists to China and to bring artists to CSB+SJU from China, many of whom were faculty members at SWU. Below are some of the artists.


He Gong

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Yifei Gan

He Gong

He Gong is a prominent artist in Chinese Contemporary Art and a faculty member of the art department at Southwest University. During the Cultural Revolution, He Gong was sent to the countryside for seven years to do manual labor. That experience, he says, “made me realize the true condition of China” and ignited his hatred of ideology and political control. In the mid-1980s he went to the United States to study—ironically, one of the first Chinese artists to do so with government support. It was a turning point. For the first time he was free to choose what he wanted to do. Gong visited CSB+SJU from September 27-30, 1993. Gong gave five lectures during his visit. The lectures were about art, his own life, and highlighting the connection CSB+SJU has with SWU. Gong talked about significant cultural events in China since the Cultural Revolution. Gong uses his art to make statements on the government, especially after the Tiananmen Square protests, which is most prominent in his piece, “The Shadow of Red.”

Gan Yifei

Yifei Gan was the artist-in-residence from January 5-25, 1997. He was an associate professor of fine arts at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. He team-taught the J-term course with Sister Baulu, “Watercolor and Acrylic Painting.” They demonstrated Chinese painting/calligraphy and oil painting portraits in workshops. The January class created a mural with the themes of “The Year 2000” and “Environmental issues.” Gan received his M.F.A. from SWU. He taught there for six years, including some CSB+SJU students. He then went to the University of Tennessee as a visiting professor and to receive his M.S. in education and Ph. D candidacy in media technology and computer art. He has been involved in exhibits both in China and the US. Gan has had work published in Phoenix, Overseas Chinese Journal, and World Journal.

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Artist-In-Residence Richard Bresnahan

Richard Bresnahan

Richard Bresnahan, Artist-in-Residence of SJU, joined the third China study trip, from June 26-July 16, 1982. Bresnahan is an SJU graduate (’76) and spent three years in Japan studying pottery under potter Takashi Nakazato. The Gallery at St. Paul and the Japan Society raised enough money to have the artist go along. The group was led by Sister Baulu Kuan and Sister Ingrid Anderson. The group studied Buddhist ceramics, painting, sculpture, and architecture in Shanghai, Peking, Hangchow, Xian, and Tun Huan.