Above: Photographer and scientist Yin Kaipu of Chengdu (with his back to the camera at right) leads School of Human Ecology Dean Soyeon Shim (wearing a white scarf) and others through the "Evolving Landscapes" exhibit. Photo by Meghan Lepisto of the Nelson Insitute for Environmental Studies.
Photo exhibit on China held November 2013
Yin Kaipu of the Chengdu Institute of Biology could barely contain his excitement as he moved through the Ruth Davis Design Gallery, explaining his collection of photographs to onlookers. He pointed to the tree stump of a sacred gingko tree, gestured at a village in Sichuan that he considers to be “clean and beautiful like Madison,” then turned to a photo of a young man he located with much difficulty to document the history of a bamboo bridge. Speaking in Chinese with a Sichuan-accent, Mr. Yin gathered crowds every time he passed through the gallery.
He was in Madison the first week of November 2013 as part of a delegation from China celebrating the opening of the exhibit, “Evolving Landscapes: 100 Years of Change in Western China.”
The exhibit, hosted by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the School of Human Ecology and the Wisconsin China Initiative, was displayed Nov. 3-27 in the Ruth Davis Design Gallery, Nancy Nicholas Hall (School of Human Ecology), 1300 Linden Drive. Hours of operation at the Ruth Davis Design Gallery: Tuesday - Thursday, 10AM - 4PM; and Sunday, Noon - 5PM.
All photo texts appeared in both English and Chinese, and were written either by Mr. Yin or by a UW-Madison faculty expert in history, anthropology, design or the environment.
Students from UW-Madison along with groups from Madison West High, Middleton High and more joined the public in visiting the exhibit.
At a symposium related to the photographs, Nelson Institute Director Paul Robbins presented Mr. Yin with a plaque (see photo at right) recognizing his contributions to ecology and photography.
The pairs of images in the Evolving Landscapes exhibit were taken by two accomplished scientists who, separated by more than 100 years, explored the rugged landscapes of China’s Sichuan region. Mr. Yin, whose institute is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, recently retraced the steps of early 20th century British naturalist and photographer Ernest Henry Wilson, who had taken hundreds of large-format photos in southwestern China – one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world outside of the tropics. Mr. Yin, a botanist, re-photographed the same locations captured by Wilson, allowing viewers to explore a complex range of environmental, social and economic changes.
“One hundred years from now, you can retake my photographs,” Mr. Yin told student groups visiting the exhibit.
Journalism and Chinese Language major Meghan Chua was among those who listened to Mr. Yin’s commentary on the photo exhibit. As part of a class project, she followed the Chengdu Institute of Biology delegation as they visited the UW-Madison Arboretum and joined symposium events during their week in Madison. Click here to watch her slideshow that features the voices of Yin Kaipu and Chengdu Institute of Biology Director Zhao Xinquan.
As Meghan Chua narrates in her slideshow, “they came a long way to look at photographs of where they had come from.”
Click here to read the Chengdu Institute of Biology's report on their director's visit to Madison. (Below is a photo of the director's delegation meeting with UW colleagues at the School of Human Ecology. Director Zhao Xinquan is in the front row, second from left.)