Made in China exhibition opens Tuesday

JAMESTOWN – Made in China, featuring photographs by Monika Garami, Brian Ulrich, and Youbing Zhan, will be displayed in Weeks Gallery on Jamestown Community College’s Jamestown Campus Nov. 1 through Dec. 9.

An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 10 during which the artists will introduce their work. Refreshments will be served.

An informal discussion with Weeks Gallery director Patricia Briggs and Ms. Garami will be featured during a brownbag lunch from noon to 1 p.m. on Dec. 7 in the gallery.

All events are free and open to the public. Funding for the exhibition is provided by the JCC Faculty Student Association and the JCC Foundation.

Made in China explores the global supply chain of Chinese-made consumer goods and Zhan’s work is the inspiration for the exhibition.

“Every day we shop for, handle, and use countless consumer products that come from China,” notes Dr. Briggs. “Although Chinese-made products amount to under three percent of consumer goods purchased in the United States, the inexpensive clothing, toys, and electronics sold at stores like WalMart and Target fill the lives of American consumers.”

“I was introduced to Zhan’s remarkable photographs of Chinese factory workers by a Chinese-American artist, Wing Young Huie, who met Zhan in his travels around China,” Dr. Briggs said.

The Weeks Gallery exhibition is Zhan’s first show in the U.S. and is supported by the Sarita and Stanley Weeks Endowment and the Ericka Block Cultural Center funds administered by the JCC Foundation. Zhan will speak with classes about his work during a Nov. 9-11 artist’s residency.

Zhan worked in the factories of Dongguan, one of China’s largest manufacturing centers, for years. In 2006 he began photographing his fellow workers on the job assembling toys, purses, bras, and computer equipment, among other things. He presents Chinese factory workers, many of whom are rural migrants drawn to the city for factory jobs, at their work stations. Zhan also documents aspects of their lives when they are off the factory floor: in their factory dorm rooms, walking crowded streets, or learning to speak English.

“Zhan’s photographs reveal the faces of workers who are thousands of miles away from us but who, in a sense, touch our lives every day,” Dr. Briggs said.

Garami lives in Warren, Pennsylvania, and works for Bluestem, formerly Blair Corporation. After being introduced to Zhan’s photography, she decided to follow the trail of Chinese-made clothing to the Bluestem Distribution Center in Irvine, Pennsylvania.

She traveled to Bayonne Port, New Jersey, to watch shipping containers destined for Bluestem off-loaded to trucks. She followed the goods from truck to storage in a Bluestem warehouse where they were boxed for individual orders.

Ulrich is assistant professor in the Rhode Island School of Design’s photography department. Included in the exhibition are five large color prints from his series “Copia,” which focuses on American consumer culture. Ulrich’s work has been shown at top museums around the world. “Copia” was the subject of solo exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art and was published as an Aperture book in 2006.

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Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, and by appointment. The gallery is located on the second floor of the Arts & Sciences Center.