MOCA channels art from the East


By Andrew McFetridge

Picture this: three happy-go-lucky Chinese children carrying a huge double-decker cheeseburger on their backs, with another mounted on top of the all-American meal, taking pictures.

The painted copper sculpture, “Welcome the Famous Brands to China” by three Chinese artists, the Luo Brothers, is one of 56 eye-catching pieces that will be on display in the upcoming  “East/West: Visually Speaking” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville.

The exhibit, which opens Sept. 17 and runs through Jan. 2, features 11 Chinese contemporary artists’ pieces that represent their perception of Western infusion in Eastern Culture.

“The contemporary art scene in China is really dynamic, and it’s relatively unknown within in the U.S., outside of the New York art scene,” said UNF art and design professor Raymond Gaddy. “So MOCA’s bringing it here to introduce Jacksonville to that whole area of Chinese art is huge.”

MOCA Director Deborah Broder said China was culturally and creatively stagnant during communist leader Mao Zedong’s reign, and it wasn’t until after his death that things started to change.

“There’s been a flood of opportunity to be expressive,” Broder said.

Broder said viewers can see the artists’ own personal struggles with the intercultural fusion through the artwork.

Dr. Lee A. Gray, Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum curator and professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, originally curated the nationally touring exhibition. She said she was looking for international exhibits that would provoke dialogue and discussion.

“People were kind of blown away by it,” Gray said.

Because most of the artists don’t speak English, little information could be gathered about the works, but Gray said that’s not the point.

“It wasn’t so much about each artist as much as the visual language they’re using,” she said. “I wasn’t concerned with what the artist wanted to say about their work as I was looking at it from an outside perspective.”

MOCA will also offer a variety of lectures about the artwork. The first, “Contemporary Chinese Commentary: An In-depth Look at the Exhibition ‘East/West: Visually Speaking’” will be held Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. The second, “China: Then and Now” will be held Nov. 11 at 7 p.m.

MOCA will also hold a slew of family events, activities and performances to celebrate the exhibition; over-sized cheeseburgers not provided.

For more information about this event, check out the events calendar at