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K-State Today

March 16, 2011

April brings bronzes and dragons to the Beach

By Julie Fosberg

When April showers drive you indoors, seek shelter and check out the new exhibitions at the Beach.

The Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art on the Kansas State University campus has two exhibitions opening Friday, April 1: "Ancient Bronzes of the Asian Grasslands from the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation" and "Dragons and Dragonflies: Court, Temple and Household in Imperial China." Both exhibitions run through Sunday, May 29.

"Ancient Bronzes of the Asian Grasslands" will be in the Marion Pelton Gallery. The exhibition presents, for the first time, a major sampling of steppe art from the renowned collections of the late Arthur M. Sackler. The curator is Trudy S. Kawami, director of research at the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation of New York, which organized the exhibition. The exhibition features 85 works illustrating the personal decorations and equipment of the horse-riding steppe dwellers of the late second and first millennia B.C.

The bronze belt buckles, plaques and weapons of these ancient horsemen are ornate, technically sophisticated and richly patterned. Animal motifs like antlered stags, wild boars and birds of prey are primary themes. The exhibition reveals how these steppe cultures used the animal world as a source of symbols to indicate tribe, social rank and connection to the spirit world. It also brings to life the complex cultures that flourished across the Asian grasslands from northern China and Mongolia into Eastern Europe.

Sackler was a research psychiatrist, medical publisher, and connoisseur and collector of art. He established his foundation in 1965 to make his extensive art collections accessible to the public. The foundation's collection has more than 900 works of art.

"Dragons and Dragonflies: Court, Temple and Household in Imperial China" will be in the Beach Museum's Hyle Family Gallery.

The paintings, textiles and other objects in this exhibition reveal life in 18th- and 19th-century China. "Dragons and Dragonflies" includes exquisite garments for formal and informal occasions; embroidered and woven badges that indicate the wearer's rank; a well-worn pair of doll-like shoes for a woman's bound feet; richly ornamented textiles embroidered by women and young girls to embellish their garments and households; and images used in households, temples and churches to worship Buddhist, Daoist or Christian deities.

Mary M. Dusenbury is the guest curator for this exhibition. The objects displayed come from the K-State Historic Costume and Textiles Museum and the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. The exhibition is funded by the Lincoln and Dorothy Deihl Trust in honor of Dorothy Deihl.