From a Simple Idea: A Month of Rewriting China
Monica Lenius
 Taking a simple idea and building it into the upcoming showcase that will be put on by the College of Fine Arts and Communications Creates has been a year in the making. As an art history major, Ellen Larson took it upon herself to not only curate the exhibit, but to create a month full of programs and activities for the “COFAC Creates: Xu Bing—The Art of Rewriting China,” which will be displaying 18 of Xu Bing’s pieces held primarily in the Edna Carlsten Gallery of the Noel Fine Arts Center, from February 2 to March 10.
She will be co-curating with Dr. Cortney Chaffin, whom Larson describes as her ‘advisor and mentor.’ The month will be centered on Xu Bing, an internationally known contemporary Chinese artist from Beijing.
An East Asian art culture and history class is all it took for Ellen Larson to research and discover Bing’s famous works of art. As president of the Carlsten Gallery Student Advisory Committee, a club on campus that creates exhibition opportunities particularly in the display cases of the NFAC, his works
sparked the idea of creating an exhibit large
enough to fill the Edna Carlsten Gallery.
Ellen Larson stands next to the COFAC Creates: Xu Bing and the Art of Rewriting
China display. Larson organized much of the Art of Rewriting China event.
Photo by Samantha Feld. 
“This showcase will really create awareness and understanding of Chinese arts and cultures. Xu Bing’s works show the relationship with language across the culture and explores the cultural heritage in China while infusing communications and education into his work,” Larson said. “Every person that sees the exhibit will take away something different.”
Something that is unique with this series is the fact that it has so many forms of art collaborating together. The visual, music, communication, arts, and theater departments all came together to put on this event.
“We had so many sponsors, it was such a relief. We just got such an overwhelming amount of support from everyone. Karen Heft, the director of the gallery, has been a huge help, as well as Dr. Chaffin, COFAC, SGA, and the university. Almost all of the money was raised through departments and offices,” Larson said.
Part of Xu Bing’s installation ‘Book from the Sky.’ Photo courtesy of
Funds played a large part in the struggle to get this idea off the ground.
“It was such a large budget that I had to establish, manage, and raise funds for several months,” Larson said. Not only has this experience taught her the ability to handle funding, but it also helped with “learning to run meetings, coordinate promotion, brochures, art directing, how to approach people, etc.”
Larson does admit that she is very excited for the opportunity to meet Bing.
“I get to pick him up from the airport myself to bring him to the opening reception and of course at the public gallery walk where other students, community members, and I can meet and engage with him,” Larson said.
Guest speakers such as Dr. Melissa Chiu, the Asia Society Director from NYC, Dr. Jason McGrath, a film historian from the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Eugene Wang, an art historian from Harvard University are a few of the presenters that will be participating throughout the month.
There will also be performances from the Peking Opera Company on March 10 at 7 p.m. in the Michelson Hall and the Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company on February 2 in the Sentry Theatre at 7:30 pm. Tickets are available at the Information and Tickets Office. The Lily Cai performance will be $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $6 for youth, and $4.50 for UW-Stevens Point students with an ID. For more information on this Chinese dance company, check out