Zheng Zou is one of the nine winners of 2022 Freedom Lab’s Shirley Graham and W.E.B Du Bois Award.
His research project is highlighted below. Read other student researcher’s projects here >>
Supported by Professor Qian Zhu
The Forgotten Romance: An Art and Social History Study on Chinese Peasant Painting of 1950-70s
Chinese Peasant Painting was a major art movement in China active from 1950s to the late 1970s. It was the first time for Chinese peasants to engage in official art creation, which had long been reserved for the intellectual class. By examining the origin of a Chinese peasant painting, Chinese peasant paintings’ visual elements, and the movement’s interaction with socialist art trends in the mid-twentieth century, I argue that the Chinese peasant painting movement was a continuation and development of the mass movement since the founding of New China.
Interests in this topic:
I am interested in the interaction of regional cultural phenomena with global trends. Peasant paintings are perfect carriers which combine local Chinese art tradition with newly established socialism visual culture. Meanwhile, the fluidity of peasant identities between the artisticization of politics and the politicization of art is also a subtle historical phenomenon in the early stage of new China.
Currently I am working on archival research of publications of Huxian Peasant Painting and primary sources. I have also started literature review on the original peasant painting works, newspaper reports, as well as former scholar works on peasant paintings. I hope my research by the end can emphasize the peasant’s subjectivity in the peasant painting, establish the continuity of traditional Chinese aesthetics in the peasant paintings, and explain the fluid identity of peasants after the founding of New China
Zheng Zou is a DKU undergraduate student from the Class of 2023 majoring in Art History. He is working as a research assistant with Freedom Lab on the project which studies the establishment of “New Village” (新村) in China from 1920 to 1949 under Dr. Qian Zhu. He is passionate about reconstructing historical landscapes by collecting primary sources. He is also interested in the interaction of regional cultural phenomena with global trends. His signature work, which wins the Shirley Graham and WEB Du Bois Award, examines the fluidity of peasant identity through peasant painting movement of the 1950s-70s in China, and the glocalization of Chinese peasant painting in the context of international socialist art.