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  • madchinaman
    Reagan Louie http://www.library.arizona.edu/branches/ccp/information/pressreleases/ IndivisibleContributors.html Reagan Louie has been a professor of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2003
      Reagan Louie

      Reagan Louie has been a professor of photography at the San Francisco
      Art Institute since 1976. His ten-year project photographing
      contemporary China, which began when he and his father returned to
      the village where Louie's father was born, is presented in the book
      Toward a Truer Life: Photographs of China, 1980-1990. A Guggenheim
      and Fulbright fellow, Louie has also received the Dorothea Lange-Paul
      Taylor Prize and the James Phelan Art Award. His next extensive
      project explores sex, sexuality, and love in Asia.



      Reagan Louie is a professor in the Photography Department and has
      taught at the Art Institute since 1976. Louie received a BA from UCLA
      and an MFA from Yale University. He has won many awards, including a
      John Simon Guggenheim fellowship, the James D. Phelan Art Award, two
      National Endowment for the Arts grants, and a California Arts Council
      grant. Louie's work can be found in the collections of the Museum of
      Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,
      and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Recent solo exhibitions
      took place at the Chinese Culture Center, San Francisco, and the
      Ansel Adams Center, San Francisco. The latter exhibition was
      accompanied by a book, Toward a Truer Life: Photographs of China 1980-
      1990 (Aperture/Friends of Photography). He has also participated in
      recent group exhibitions in New York, Massachusetts and Washington.
      Louie serves as a trustee of the Friends of Photography.

      [Toward a Truer Life] is arguably the best photography book of this
      year. Graceful and unexpectedly complex, Mr. Louie's photographs
      present a clash between unhappy modernity and a culture that cannot
      be easily stripped of its heritage


      R E A G A N L O U I E I N S E A R C H O F A T R U E L I F E

      Until 1980, when I first traveled to China, I had never thought of
      visiting my ancestral homeland. In fact, I had never thought of China
      as my homeland, though my father was born there. For me, California-
      born, being Chinese was not a matter of place. Being Chinese inhered
      in behavior, in myth.

      The following year, in 1981, I returned with my father to his
      birthplace, Wing Wor. My visit exposed an aspect of my life I had
      felt but never seen. Time collapsed as my past was continuously
      reformed by the present. Wherever I turned, I saw the familiar in the
      unfamiliar. I recall photographing a village garden and suddenly
      seeing vegetables my father had grown in our backyard, which in
      Sacramento had looked exotic, out of place. Later, photographing
      these country Chinese performing ceremonies for various spirits and
      deities, I remember how the same acts by my family at home had struck
      me as comic or nonsensical. In China, however, such rituals seemed
      absolutely natural.

      By 1987, the year of my fifth visit, the consequences of China's
      uneasy alliance with the West had become apparent. High-rise
      apartment buildings introduced modern conveniences but disrupted age-
      old social patterns. And freer economic policies, while enriching
      some, squeezed those on fixed incomes with higher costs. For the
      first time, despite their increased freedom and material gains, I
      heard people in China openly question if the quality of their lives
      had improved. The future was beginning to appear no less frightening
      than the past.

      I emerged from China with both the art and the sense of connection
      that I so hungered for. A psychologist might say that my search had
      been caused by "cultural marginalization." Maybe. Yet, if my
      education furthered some inner division, it also gave me the means to
      give voice to it. In emphasizing the autobiographical dynamic of my
      photographs, however, I do not mean to deny other readings of them-
      documentary, political, formal. In my journeys to China, I was
      continuing a voyage begun by my father when he first left his village
      in 1931. My own passage has been somewhere between East and West,
      need and knowledge, then and now.
      -Reagan Louie


      REAGAN LOUIE returned to China, the land of his ancestors, during the
      1980s and traveled and photographed extensively through every
      province and region. His work, published in the 1991 Aperture book
      Toward a Truer Life, is at once a study of a nation in the midst of
      sweeping historical change and a personal chronicle of a young
      Chinese-AmericanĂ­s growing awareness of his heritage. Louie is
      currently Associate Professor of Photography at the San Francisco Art
      Institute. His work has been widely exhibited and is in the permanent
      collections of major museums.
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