Experience / Exhibitions / Paper Dialogues

Paper Dialogues

The Dragon and Our Stories


Throughout both Nordic and Chinese history, the dragon looms large, and this February, the American Swedish Institute will host an exhibition that explores the similarities between Nordic and Chinese culture and tradition through an art form that traces its roots back more than 1500 years.

Danish papercut artist Karin Bit Vejle (Bit), and Chinese artist and Professor Xiaoguang Qiao (Professor Qiao), began their cross-cultural collaboration in 2010. Over more than decade, the partnership between Bit and Professor Qiao grew to become a world-traveling exhibition that explores the intersections of art, culture and tradition through papercuts that are impressively intricate and at times massive in scale.

“The collaboration has been a learning process. We haven’t been able to talk directly to one another, but we have decoded each other and created a different kind of dialogue. I feel that I have seen his heart – that we look into each other’s soul. It has been fantastic to get to know another papercutting artist, a different culture and a different country like this.” – Bit

Bit and Professor Qiao approach their shared vision through varied styles of presentation. For example, Bit employs lighting and shadow to bring a three-dimensional presence to two-dimensional work mounted between panes of glass, while Professor Qiao’s 30-foot papercut dragon winds its way through space, commanding attention, and reverence.

For Paper Dialogues, Bit and Professor Qiao are joined by Layla May Arthur and Emma Reid, artists from Jersey in the British Channel Islands. Their work will be on display throughout Nelson Cultural Center and Turnblad Mansion on the campus of the American Swedish Institute. The exhibition will be accompanied by educational workshops and events that encourage papercut artists of all skills and experience to join the conversation, and those unfamiliar with the art form to discover something new. The American Swedish Institute is the second stop on the exhibition’s US tour.

Paper Dialogues will be joined on ASI’s campus by Thermal, an exhibition of movement, form and sound featuring the work of local paper artist Kim Heidkamp alongside ARENA Dances performing the work of Mathew Janczewski, and Our Dragon Story, ASI’s newest Family Gallery installation designed with local students.

Visitors may recognize Bit’s style from her 2014 ASI exhibition, Papercut! The Incredible Psaligraphy of Karen Bit Vejle.

Exhibition Supporters

Paper Dialogues is produced in partnership with ArtHouse Jersey and the Museum for Papirkunst. The exhibition is presented by Fredrikson & Byron. Major support provided by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, Karin Larson, and ASI’s members and donors. The exhibition’s media partner is the Star Tribune.

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