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“Chinese-ish” by Anika Schneider

Exhibition Runs: March 27 – May 16, 2021


“Chinese-ish” is an exhibition about Anika Schneider redefining her identity on her own terms. With an Asian Mixed female identity, she resides in a highly racialized body that also exists in a liminal state. The connection to this liminal state of being transports her work to themes of loss, transitional spaces, and visualizing the intangible. Schneider is a narrative artist who draws on lived experiences, memory, and family photography. 


Chinese bird and flower paintings were stuck in her head during the creation of this exhibition. The one piece of artwork her parents ever purchased was a Chinese bird and flower oil painting from an antique shop. It hangs in their living room along with other items of traditional Chinese imagery, chopstick holders, fans, vases. The images and motifs on these objects are a part of her lived experience, yet they also feel separated from her like artifacts of a past she does not fully know.


Schneider’s work manipulates and reimagines Chinese imagery through a multimedia approach including painting, monoprint etchings and ceramics, translating the visual influences she grew up with into her own story as a way to deepen her connection to the culture of her ancestors. The Chinese aspects of this work are at once deeply familiar and distant to her. Through the act of recreating and restructuring Chinese symbols, Anika is creating her own narrative of what it means to be Chinese, to have a Chinese family, and yet struggle with cultural gaps. The work plays off of what is considered Chinese but reframes it to create a visual identity that is distinctly her own.


Anika finds that she frequently looks towards her childhood, as way to reframe identity through the lens of her own past: “My experiences during childhood laid the foundation of my relationship to Chinese culture and experience. These memories lead me to a closeness with a Chinese identity that feels distanced in my adult life.”


While making “Chinese-ish”, She traveled through her memories seeking a path to her ancestral lineage, a journey to connect with what has been lost. Bits of her childhood memories seep into these works as she reclaims that past self and her cultural connection.


“In these pieces, culture, tradition, and memory are metaphorically and literally cut and mixed to create a narrative space for me and my story to reside.”


Anika Schneider received her MFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. For her undergraduate studies, she received a Bachelors of Science with a double major in Environmental Studies and Studio Art from Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA. Anika’s work has been exhibited nationally at galleries such as Rosalux Gallery, Gallery B St Paul, Circle Gallery, Visarts, Dumbarton Concert Gallery, and Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture. Anika has also participated in residencies in Wolfsville, Nova Scotia and Solomons Island, Maryland. She was awarded a Windgate University Fellowship and the Gettysburg College Provost Grant. Recently she completed her first public mural for the City of Brooklyn Center and MN Metro Transit. Anika currently lives and works in Minneapolis where she enjoys giving a home to second hand furniture and hiking with her dog Wolly. 


This exhibition is in honor of SooVAC's founder Suzy Greenberg and her commitment in supporting the Master of Fine Arts program at MCAD.  Anika Schneider was selected for this exhibition by curator Pujan Gandhi. 


Pujan Gandhi is the Jane Emison Assistant Curator of South & Southeast Asian Art at Minneapolis Institute of Art. He was previously based in his hometown of Atlanta, where he served as a consulting curator at the High Museum of Art while working independently on exhibitions in Midland, Texas, and Mumbai. Pujan completed his BA at Middlebury College, and his postgraduate diploma and MA in the History of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. During his studies, he interned at several international art galleries and cataloged in the Asian Art Department at the British Museum. After graduate school, he ran his own art advisory business, focused on Indian miniature painting, classical South Asian sculpture, and global modern and contemporary art. He also guest lectured at SOAS. In 2015, he was shortlisted for Spear’s “Young Turk Art Advisor” of the year award. While his dissertation focused on early Jain art (c. 100 BCE to 300 CE) at a site in Mathura, India, Pujan considers himself an avid generalist. He looks forward to stewarding Mia’s South, Southeast Asian, and Islamic collections, while deepening the community’s engagement with the dynamic arts of these vast regions.

If you missed our Conversation between artist Anika Schneider and curator Esther Callahan, you can watch it HERE.

Esther Callahan is an Independent Curator, Chief Creative Officer for Arts and Recreation, and the 2021 Critic-in-Residence for the Great Meadows Foundation. As an advocate for systemic change and equity in the Minnesota arts sector with roots in academic degrees in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, and Social Justice Leadership from the University of Minnesota, she has been able to collaborate with social justice organizations, diverse artists, and work collaboratively to create space for public art. She builds her curatorial practice around the intersections of race, feminism and social practice, with her most recent exhibit "Stand Up Prints" at Highpoint Center for Printmaking showcasing contemporary printmaking as a tool to amplify people and communities who demand racial and social justice. 


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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