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Shoushan Soapstone Carvings from the Wellington Wang Collection

Isaak Kifle

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The Seton Art Gallery, located in Dodds Hall, puts on displays throughout the academic year of works of art of all mediums encompassing every time period, from the ancient to the contemporary. This

“Shoushan Soapstone Carvings from The Wellington Wang Collection,” consisting of nearly thirty Chinese carvings that were donated to the university by collector Wellington Wang. Soapstone

year, the gallery opened with the exhibit “Shoushan Soapstone Carvings from The Wellington Wang Collection,” consisting of nearly thirty Chinese carvings that were donated to the university by collector Wellington Wang. Soapstone, whose scientific name is steatite, is a soft, easily carved stone that has been prized in China for over a thousand years. Its name comes from its soapy feel when touched.

As for the works themselves, the exhibit includes Daoist and Buddhist imagery as well as seals and symbols. Seals are small, but very intricate carvings that were used in lieu of signatures to represent and identify an artist or individual. From the exhibit: “Daoist art is centered around the relationship between humanity and the universe, therefore many objects depict figures interacting with nature.” The Buddhist works on the other hand, had been used both for teaching doctrine as well as providing a focus for devotional activities.

Wellington Wang is one of the world’s foremost collectors of Chinese artifacts, particularly ones scattered the United States and Europe following China’s cultural revolution. Wang had previously made a donation to the university with a portion of his collection of Asian rocks. “The Art of Rocks from Asia” is currently on display in the Marvin K. Peterson Library. The soapstone carvings and rocks both constitute a small portion of Wang’s total collection, which consists of thousands of pieces of art, including knives, pottery, and works of bronze and jade. On May 23, 2009, Wang was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at UNH’s Spring Commencement Ceremony.

An opening reception was held for the carving exhibit in the Seton Art Gallery on August 31 from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. Many people came in to see the works on display and to discuss them. Among those attending was President Kaplan, who made a few remarks on the collection and Wang’s generosity, as well as injecting humor into the crowd, noting that Wang once told him in an interview that his total collection was “worth billions,” before adding that he was referring to Taiwanese dollars. The exhibit will remain open until Friday, September 23, and the gallery will be open Tuesday to Thursday from 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. as well as Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m-2:00 p.m.

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Shoushan Soapstone Carvings from the Wellington Wang Collection