About the Exhibition

This exhibition is open to the public at MOWA on the Lake, located inside the retirement campus of Saint John’s On The Lake in downtown Milwaukee. Learn more


Opening Reception | June 27 | 5:00—7:00

Artist Talk | June 27 | 6:00

Having arrived in the United States in 1997 and now teaching at the University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, Xiaohong Zhang’s work is informed by her experiences as a first-generation immigrant. Straddling two distinct cultural worlds, she taps into the ancient tradition of Chinese paper-cutting to produce intricately detailed figurative depictions that reflect on contemporary consumerism, the powerful impact of Western cultural dominance on Chinese society, and her personal exploration of identity as it relates to family and pluralistic society.

Her bodies of work reflect different points of cultural contact and experience. In the Women and Money series, Zhang adapts the paper-cutting style associated with the Hubei Province in Northern China to produce representations of the modern woman, epitomizing the Western ideal of feminine beauty. She draws inspiration from the facial features and hand poses of Pi Ying (traditional Chinese shadow puppetry) and the exaggerated postures of models in Western fashion design, weaving together American and Chinese aesthetics. The Last Kiss series was a heartfelt reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.  A parent herself, Zhang urges viewers to show affection to loved ones today because tomorrow is uncertain. Throughout the work, she uses different languages to repeat the phrase “Our hearts are broken today.” Zhang explains: “There is one thing in the world which has no barrier of culture, language, country, or religion. That is love.”

Featured Image: Last Kiss I, II, III, 2013
Image: Money and Women Series #4, 2009