MOCA UNVEILS GROUNDBREAKING EXHIBITIONS ON TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE

The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) tells the rich story of Chinese medicine and practices in America through two exhibitions that, for the first time ever, combine the use of historical artifacts and contemporary art to demystify and deepen understanding of this discipline. Chinese Medicine in America: Converging Ideas, People and Practices and On the Shelves of Kam Wah Chung & Co. will both be on view from April 26 through September 9, 2018.

 

Chinese Medicine in America: Converging Ideas, People and Practices is a sweeping cultural exploration of Chinese medicine that combines ancient metaphysical concepts including yin yang, qi, and five phases with the modern practices of Chinese medicine in America, such as herbal treatments and acupuncture. The exhibition tells a cross-cultural story of Chinese medicine and practices in America through historical medical artifacts, contemporary art, and profiles on notable figures in Chinese medicine history to create an engaging space for exploring how medicine, philosophy and history are linked.

 

On the Shelves of Kam Wah Chung & Co.: General Store and Apothecary in John Day, Oregon is an immersive historical exhibition that celebrates the medical practice of Ing “Doc” Hay who became a prominent figure in eastern Oregon after the California Gold Rush. Ing Hay, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1887, brought his knowledge of herbology and pulsology to a remote part of Oregon during a time when Western medicine was still in its infancy.


Through the presentation of the historical Kam Wah Chung general store, the exhibition includes Chinese patent medicines developed by the doctor, archival materials such as historical photos, patient records and correspondences with non-Chinese settlers. In doing so, the exhibition provides an illustration of day-to-day life in the region, and a lesser-known history of Chinese immigration in the Pacific Northwest.


The exhibitions, the first of their kind to be shown in New York City, feature work by artists such as aaajiao, Cui Fei, Guo Fengyi, Oda Kaisen, Li Tang, Emily Mock, Zhang Hongtu and Zhou Pei Chun, and by infographics pioneer Fritz Kahn. MOCA also has commissioned emerging artists Vincent Chong and Robert Cipriano to create original woodblock prints, a technique deeply rooted in Chinese culture, to highlight the historical figures featured in the exhibition.


“As a nationally recognized museum in the U.S. dedicated to the untold stories and contributions of Chinese in America, MOCA pioneers the presentation of exhibits and programs that challenge the generic and cliché,” said Nancy Yao Maasbach, President of the Museum of Chinese in America. “These exhibitions break new ground by promoting a multi-faceted discussion of how ancient Chinese medicine principles and practices evolve when circumstances and space demand its change.”

 

Chinese medical practices and medicines are all around us. In the mid-19th century, these “mysterious and magical” practices and concoctions arrived alongside the earliest Chinese immigrants who built the railroads and searched for gold. In the 1970s, this “alternative” medicine was best known as acupuncture. Today, aspects of Chinese medicine are becoming more integrated into healthcare practices in America. With its perceived evolution, is Chinese medicine now better understood? What underlies its mechanisms and how best are these investigated? How can it continue to benefit healthcare in America? What is its history in America?

 

“More than just a technical study about the practices of Chinese medicine, these exhibitions are actually an exploration of a Chinese worldview, if a singular one even exists. By seeing how we treat illness and maintain our health, we hope visitors can learn about the ancient philosophical concepts that are the backbone of Chinese culture,” said Herb Tam, MOCA’s Curator and Director of Exhibitions.

 

“For a period of time in America, Chinese medicine seemed relegated to the past - particularly in contrast to the high-tech advances made in biomedicine during the 20th century. But it is fortunate that much has been preserved and brought forward, as Chinese medicine is relevant today in our evolving understanding of the human body, medical sensibilities, and the nature of health and healing,” said Donna Mah, guest curator of Chinese Medicine in America and current faculty member of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.

 

The curatorial team for Chinese Medicine in America consists of: Donna Mah, guest curator; Herb Tam, MOCA’s Curator and Director of Exhibitions; and Andrew Rebatta, MOCA’s Assistant Curator. It was supported by research from Sioman Lam and Rui Tang, curatorial interns.


About the Guest Curator
Donna M. Mah, DACM, L.Ac., holds a Doctorate in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine and a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine. She is a licensed Acupuncturist in the State of New York. Donna is on the faculty of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) and maintains a private practice with a focus on pain management, trauma recovery and family medicine. She is a Research Acupuncturist in the study of chronic pain treatment conducted through a collaboration between PCOM, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Hospital and Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital. Donna facilitates corporate wellness programs, and works to connect Chinese medicine concepts to the health of individuals, families and organizations.

 

On the Shelves of Kam Wah Chung & Co. is organized in conjunction with the Kam Wah Chung Heritage Site, which is maintained by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

 

Additional Programs
During the run of the exhibitions, MOCA will offer a series of related events, public programs, family programs, walking tours and gallery tours. A schedule of guided tours of Chinese Medicine in America and On the Shelves of Kam Wah Chung & Co., and updates on upcoming related programs will be available at MOCA’s website www.mocanyc.org. Follow the exhibitions on social media with #MOCAMedicine.

 

For press and image requests, and to RSVP for the press preview on April 25, 2018, at 10 a.m., email press@mocanyc.org.

 

Chinese Medicine in America: Converging Ideas, People and Practices and related programs are made possible with the generous support of the S.H. Ho Foundation, the New York College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Con Edison, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

 

On the Shelves of Kam Wah Chung & Co. and related programs are made possible with the generous support of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


About Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)
The Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) aims to engage audiences in an ongoing and historical dialogue, in which people of all backgrounds are able to see American history through a critical perspective, to reflect on their own experiences, and to make meaningful connections between: the past and the present, the global and the local, themselves and others.

 

Hours:

Monday – Closed
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday – 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday – 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
MOCA Free First Thursdays: Free gallery admission on the first Thursday of each month, made possible through the generosity of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and J.T. Tai & Co. Foundation.

 

Admission:

General Admission: $10
Seniors (65+ with ID) and Students (with school ID): $5
Children under 2 years old: Free
MOCA Members: Free

 

 

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