Symposium and EXHIBITION OPENING: Eye Eye Nose Mouth at Harvard University

Repeats every 1 week(s) on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019 through Friday, March 8, 2019
9:00am - 6:00pm

Symposium and EXHIBITION OPENING: Eye Eye Nose Mouth: Art, Disability, and Mental Illness in Nanjing, China and Shiga-ken, Japan

January 29, 2019|3:00pm - 7:00pm

Location: Japan Friends of Harvard Concourse, CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA


On view January 30 – March 8, 2019 (M-F, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)

Free & open to the public. 

Exhibition opening: January 29, 2019, 5:30-7:00 p.m. 

The opening reception on January 29 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (CGIS South Concourse), will be preceded by an interdisciplinary academic symposium (3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Harvard University Asia Center, CGIS South, Belfer Case Study Room) that will provide further context on the broader aesthetic, legal, and sociopolitical conditions under which each of these workshops operates.

Curated by Raphael Koenig & Benny Shaffer. 

A Fung Scholar Event sponsored & organized by The Harvard Asia Center 

with the generous support of: 
The Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University 
The Harvard Law School Project on Disability
The Harvard-Yenching Institute
The Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies at Harvard University 

An upcoming exhibition at the Harvard University Asia Center explores the intersections of art, disability, and mental health by displaying original works on paper and sculptures created by ten groundbreaking, self-taught artists from China and Japan. Their compelling, formally innovative works come in a wide range of styles and media, from gestural abstractions to proliferating figurations, from meticulous clay obelisks to eye-popping wall paintings. 

The first exhibition of works produced in art workshops for people with disabilities ever to take place at Harvard (and only the second devoted to self-taught artists since the Harvard Society for Contemporary Art’s Exhibition of American Folk Paintings in 1930), “Eye Eye Nose Mouth” offers an original contribution to an ongoing conversation about mental health and the acceptance of mental disability and mental illness in both local and international contexts.

The curators conducted on-the-ground research at Nanjing Outsider Art Studio in China and Atelier Yamanami in Japan, in order to witness the practices of the artists and to carefully contextualize the works within their specific sociocultural conditions of production. As the curators observed the inner workings of these art therapy workshops, they documented the daily rhythms and artistic processes of the artists on video, which form a tapestry of moving-image portraits to accompany the works in the exhibition. 

The title of the exhibition is an homage to the work of Hideaki Yoshikawa, who has been creating numerous series of works bearing the title “Eye Eye Nose Mouth” (目目鼻口, pronounced me-me-hana-kuchi) at Atelier Yamanami over several decades. His drawings and clay sculptures, combining obsessive seriality and formal inventiveness, are exemplary of the quality of the works produced at Atelier Yamanami and Nanjing Outsider Art Studio, but also of the most salient common feature of both workshops. 

The two workshops belong to distinct sociocultural contexts at different stages of their respective histories: the former was founded in 1986, while the latter, founded in 2006, is a comparatively smaller structure. However, staff members of both workshops make it a point to never intervene directly in the creative process, providing care, support, and art materials while leaving artists at total liberty to experiment and develop their own artistic practices at their own pace. The works displayed in this exhibition offer a glimpse of the results yielded by these deliberate strategies of tolerance and empowerment. 

Mental illness and mental disability are particularly complex issues in both China and Japan, due to prevalent social stigma, and, in the case of mainland China, a relative lack of state-supported care facilities. In this regard, both workshops constitute attempts to heighten public awareness of these issues and to improve the symbolic image and concrete living conditions of affected persons in their respective societies. While insisting on the specificity of each workshop’s particular context, the exhibition avoids a rigid juxtaposition or comparison, encouraging the viewer to instead find formal and thematic echoes across the works. 

The opening reception on January 29, 2019, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. will be preceded by an interdisciplinary academic symposium (3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) that will provide further context on the broader aesthetic, legal, and sociopolitical conditions under which each of these workshops operates. Both events are free and open to the public. 


Symposium: Art, Disability, and Mental Illness in Nanjing, China and Shiga-ken, Japan

Harvard University Asia Center, CGIS South, Belfer Case Study Room, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. 

Panel 1: Art Production at the Margins: Atelier Yamanami and Nanjing Outsider Art Studio

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

With the participation of: 

• Prof. Karen Thornber (Director, Harvard Asia Center, Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Comparative Literature)
• Masato Yamashita (Director, Atelier Yamanami)
• Haiping Guo (Director, Nanjing Outsider Art Studio)
• Prof. Shaun McNiff (University Professor, Lesley University)
• Exhibition curators: Raphael Koenig (Ph.D., Harvard University, Comparative Literature) & Benny Shaffer (Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University, Anthropology) 

Panel 2: Disability and Mental Illness in China and Japan: Social and Legal Issues 

4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

With the participation of:

•Prof. William Alford (Director, Harvard Law School Project on Disability & Professor of Law, Harvard Law School) 
• Prof. Andrew Campana (Post-Doctoral Associate, Cornell University)
• Prof. Cui Fengming (Director, China Program, Harvard Law School Project on Disability; Professor, Renmin University of China Law School and Senior Fellow, Renmin University of China Disability Law Clinic)
• Prof. Arthur Kleinman (Professor of Anthropology, Professor of Medical Anthropology in Global Health and Social Medicine, & Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard University)


January 30, 2019: 

10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Harvard Art Museums, Art Study Center: Presentation of museum holdings related to questions of disability, mental illness, and self-taught art by Raphael Koenig (Private session, contact organizers if interested.)

1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Lesley University. Art as Healing in China and Japan: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on New Community Based Applications. 
A Conversation on the Harvard Asia Center's Exhibition "Eye Eye Nose Mouth: Art, Disability, and Mental Illness in Nanjing, China and Shiga-ken, Japan" with Professor Vivien Marcow Speiser (Lesley University), Professor Shaun McNiff (Lesley University), Haiping Guo (director, Nanjing Outsider Art Studio), Masato Yamashita (director, Atelier Yamanami), and exhibition curators Benny Shaffer & Raphael Koenig. Free & open to the public.

4:00 to 6:00 p.m., CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium: Screening of Jizo Libido, a documentary film about Atelier Yamanami (Japanese with English subtitles, 62min) by Yoshiaki Kasatani, followed by a discussion and Q&A with the director. With the participation of Julia Alekseyeva (Postdoctoral Fellow, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University), Yukiko Koide (gallery owner and leading expert of Japanese self-taught and outsider art), and Masato Yamashita (director, Atelier Yamanami). (free entry) 

Poster image: 

Eye Eye Nose Mouth [detail], by Hideaki Yoshikawa
Liquid Sumi on paper, 38.1 x 54.0 cm, 2013 ©Hideaki Yoshikawa / Atelier Yamanami

(617) 495-1000
Harvard University
CGIS South
1730 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02138