University Relations and Communications

MSU Billings lecture to discuss ‘Socially-engaged Art in China'

October 29, 2014



Dr. Jennifer Lynn, History Department, 657-2922
Dr. Patricia Vettel-Becker, Art Department, 657-2980
Carmen Price, University Relations and Communications, 657-2266


Free and open to the public, "Cultural Considerations: Socially-Engaged Art in China” will be held at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 6, in the Liberal Arts building, room 205.


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Chair of the International Caucus of the Women’s Caucus for Art, a 42-year-old arts and activism nonprofit organization for women, will give a public lecture at Montana State University Billings.


""Sherri Cornett will speak on “Cultural Considerations: Socially-Engaged Art in China” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, in the Liberal Arts building, room 205. The lecture, hosted by MSUB’s Department of Art and Women’s and Gender Studies, is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the lecture and discussion.


Billings resident and MSU Billings alumna, Cornett will discuss challenges and cultural considerations that arise when collaborating with an institution within a communist government.


Cornett’s observations were made when she and a group of 20 volunteers from the International Caucus of the Women’s Caucus for Art were invited to collaborate with the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, China on an art-based cultural exchange and exhibition composed of women artists based in the United States and China.


""Artists were charged with surmounting the many challenges and cultural considerations inherent in collaborating with an institution within China’s authoritarian government, such as laws restricting public gatherings, the government’s exhortations about the official purpose of art, discouragement of individual opinion and free speech, differences in language and contradictions between official gender equality of the reality of women’s experiences.


They found these challenges and cultural considerations warranted a project expansion into a multi-faceted, socially-engaged exchange, which included a delegation of 13 artists that showcased activist art and events that built community among delegates, artists, professors and students.


Cornett co-directed the groups's exhibit for women in South Korea, titled “Woman + Body” and was the exhibit's director at the LuXun Academy of Fine Arts in China titled “Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art.” She has also represented the organization at the United Nations. Cornett will discuss the background, risks, censorship, goals, framework and challenges as well as the ongoing evaluation of the project.


Influenced by a degree in political science from the University of Houston and an art degree from MSUB, Cornett’s career has largely focused on activism, advocacy and campaign work centered on issues of women’s rights, human rights, environmental issues and education. 

“I aim, through my art, to engage the psyche and soul of viewers, to encourage them to ask questions of themselves and the world and to build relationships around the search for answers, Cornett said.


She is Montana's representative for The Feminist Art Project and a member of the College Art Association. Her work has exhibited in China, Korea, California, Chicago, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. 


For more information about Cornett, visit Get the exhibit's press kit.


TOP PHOTO ABOVE: United States Women’s Caucus for Art delegation gathers in 2014 on the front steps of the Art Gallery of Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang, China