Introducing the Association for Chinese Art History

Screenshot of the Association for Chinese Art History website
Homepage of the Association for Chinese Art History (ACAH)

Scholars of Chinese art history now have a new home to share news, events, and find their communities! The Association for Chinese Art History (ACAH) is a newly-formed committee of AAS, associated with the East and Inner Asia Council (EIAC). It seeks to promote communication and community among scholars of Chinese art and architectural history and the visual cultures of global and diasporic Chinas by providing opportunities for dialogue, promotion of scholarly opportunities and events, and celebration of the achievements of members of our field. Our call for membership is now open – please join us!

Planning for ACAH began in late 2020, when art historians Michelle C. Wang, Amy McNair, Kate Lingley, and Roberta Wue, now members of the present ACAH Board of Directors, were invited by AAS to collaborate on a proposal to the Hong Kong-based Bei Shan Tang Foundation 北山堂基金. The Bei Shan Tang Foundation, founded by Dr. J. S. Lee in 1985, seeks to promote Chinese art and culture, and advance scholarship in those areas in both the academic and museum sectors in Hong Kong and beyond. Among their other major initiatives are the J.S. Lee Memorial Fellowship Progamme and the Bei Shan Tang Doctoral Thesis Grants. We are grateful for our collaboration with the Bei Shan Tang Foundation, which enabled the establishment of ACAH in 2022.

The initial round of ACAH initiatives launched with the announcement of the Bei Shan Tang Book Prizes for sole-authored monographs and catalogues in Chinese art history. The Bei Shan Tang Prize Committee, consisting of Xin Conan-Wu and Foong Ping, and chaired by Roberta Wue, thoroughly enjoyed reading and discussing the latest titles in Chinese art history. The announcement of prize-winning books and authors will be made prior to the 2023 AAS Annual Conference.

The second major initiative was support for two sponsored panels at the 2023 AAS Annual Conference. Similar to the Bei Shan Tang Book Prize submissions, the entries for panel sponsorship were exciting in their breadth of topics and approaches and indicative of new directions in Chinese art history scholarship. Please look out for the two sponsored panels in the digital edition of the conference program.

We welcome all to the ACAH meeting-in-conjunction at the 2023 AAS Annual Conference on Saturday, March 18, 12:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. in the Riverway Room of the Sheraton Hotel. This is not a formal meeting, but rather an opportunity for you to drop in anytime to meet with members of the current ACAH board. We are looking forward to meeting with you and discussing your ideas for ACAH: how this growing organization can best serve the needs and interests of faculty, students, museum professionals, art world professionals, and independent scholars by meeting the challenges of the present day and anticipating the opportunities of the future. Please stop by!

Looking beyond the 2023 AAS Annual Conference: we need you! We need your submissions for a fresh round of Bei Shan Tang Book Prizes and AAS conference panels, and your news and announcements for our member listserv, which will be hosted by the Smithsonian Institution. We will need your participation in mentoring opportunities and a formal meeting envisioned for the 2024 AAS Annual Conference. Above all, we will need your participation in elections for a new ACAH Board of Directors to be announced later this year. Similar to the Japan Art History Forum, the American Council for Southern Asian Art, the Historians of Islamic Art Association, and the Arts Council of the African Studies Association, we now have a space to call our own.

— Submitted by Michelle C. Wang, Georgetown University

For their vision, guidance, and support, sincere thanks to: Jianfei He and Carmen Bat at the Bei Shan Tang Foundation; Jenny F. So at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (emerita); Hilary V. Finchum-Sung, Maura Elizabeth Cunningham, and past and present EIAC Chairs Jack Chen, Peter Carroll, and Shellen Xiao Wu at the Association for Asian Studies; Chase F. Robinson, Jan Stuart, and J. Keith Wilson at the National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution; Louise Cort of SEACeramArch; Manling Luo of the T’ang Studies Society; Andrew Maske, Lia Robinson, and Trevor Mendors of the Japan Art History Forum; and Katie Ryor and Nixi Cura of the Arts of China Consortium, who paved the way.