In Collecting Objects / Excluding People, Lenore Metrick-Chen demonstrates an unknown impact of Chinese immigration upon nineteenth-century American art and visual culture. The American ideas of “Chineseness” ranged from a negative portrayal to an admiring one and these varied images had an effect on museum art collections and advertising images. They brought new ideas into American art theory, anticipating twentieth-century Modernism. Metrick-Chen shows that efforts to construct a cultural democracy led to the creation of unforeseen new categories for visual objects and unanticipated social changes. Collecting Objects / Excluding People reveals the power of images upon culture, the influence of media representation upon the lives of Chinese immigrants, and the impact of political ideology upon the definition of art itself.
Lenore Metrick-Chen is Associate Professor of Art History at Drake University.