Jiawei Zhao Grapples with China's Influence on American Culture

Originally from Beijing, Jiawei Zhao moved to the U.S to attend college, and has been living in America for eleven years since then.


Artist Jiawei Zhao

Zhao's work has references to the experience of displacement and cultural assimilation.

When initially starting his Wallpapers project he noticed several monuments in New York's Chinatown. "Chinatown was the starting point of the project. These gates and monuments are important to American people. Furthermore, when I walked on the streets of NYC, I felt I have been seeing buildings as in China. Of course, those modern skyscrapers buildings are similar, but I am emphasizing there are many classical western buildings constructed or created in China recently, because Chinese people love classical western culture and think the moon is better in America. I feel similar when I see those buildings and architectures, and I am not in China."


"Chinese people love classical western culture and think the moon is better in America"

Artwork by Jiawei Zhao

Zhao has been living in the US for eleven years. Initially, he came for education, residing in Wisconsin, Texas, and New York. "Most of my life after age 19, I keep adapting to American culture. As a Chinese student, my work grapples with the shifting of Chinese students’ culture and their everyday life in the U.S. as a result of assimilating and compromising among Chinese cultural heritage, affirmed impression and viewpoints of Chinese culture in America, and American culture, and it explores a redefinition of a relationship with the homeland simultaneously. The students came here as teenagers and spent 4, 6, or 8 years here. It is a such important part of their lives, they absorb the culture here and bring it back to China. The culture is associated with their life forever."


Artwork by Jiawei Zhao

Zhao is based in New York where he pursues his art practice. "I love New York, and the City has given me many inspirations and encouraged me to develop many new works and projects. As a capitalistic art center, it is very competitive, artists need to have great artworks and spend time networking to get opportunities for exhibitions."


Artwork by Jiawei Zhao

Zhao is currently working on a new project, building up the wall space of bricks, and how Chinese students have constructed their own value conception and culture through wall spaces composed of building/architecture connections, inspired by Chinatown building and college campus buildings. Chinese students could have created an open-mind -wall-space drafted with a big picture of American culture, and meanwhile, they could have sealed off themselves for safeness through the wall spaces.

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