By Ana Carolina Delena Cury, Staff Writer
During the second and third week of February, students had the opportunity to learn about art from around the globe, guided by other students. The student guided tours in Schmucker Art Gallery were focused on a current exhibition about the representation of sports and games in various countries and the different meanings behind the word “play.”
The exhibition featured several Chinese, Japanese and American pieces, pictures, and games. One of the most detailed and precise pieces of art was the “Carved Ivory Boat” which was made during the Qing to Republic Period of 1891-1940.
Devyn Wesolowski ’25, analyzed the sculpture. “Figures are seen playing games, drinking and talking on board this miniature ivory boat. Among the intricately carved details is the name of the boat ‘baizhou,’ written on the bow. Lanterns at the stern of the boat read ‘gong zhu qian qiu,’ which translates to ‘respectful wishes for a thousand years of old,’ denoting a birthday celebration for an aristocratic woman. The main motifs on the boat are peonies and dragons, symbolizing wealth, honor, good luck, and nobility,” said Wesolowski.
An additional tour guide, Kate Sallee ’25, shared her favorite piece in the exposition: “The Japanese Powder Blue Vase.”
Sallee shared, “I did research about this vase and there is a lot of history and symbolism behind it. Also, the vase is done in Chinese style, but it was made in Japan.”
The Japanese porcelain was made during the Meiji Period of 1868-1912, and the decoration on the vase are merry scenes of children playing. Sallee also stated that the decoration on the vase “provides a deeper understanding of disparities between the genders in the Meiji Period.”
Sallee continued, “Boys during this time were expected to focus on future careers, and the academic materials depicted on the vase indicate that although the boys are playing, their main responsibility, or privilege, is acquiring an education.”
The expedition also featured pictures from the sports photographer Walter Iooss, representing “play in its most spectacular form: the theatrics of professional competition,” according to Paul Pelham ’23.
Photographs of Michael Jordan, Phoenix at Chicago, 1993; Tony Gonzalez, Phila., PA, 1964; and Ali vs Terrell – Houston Astrodome, have the “energy that enables the viewer to be present in the tension and triumph of these iconic games and matches,” said Pelham.
Overall, the exhibition represented the meaning of “playing” in different societies and cultures, and the details in the pieces enhance viewers’ understanding of the word “play.”