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Area Artist’s Works Touch the Sky in China Exhibit

art: "Shoot at Blue Sky" by Rosemary DesPlas
“Shoot at Blue Sky” references a hunting phrase that aims to keep hunters safe from friendly fire, says artist Rosemary DesPlas.

​Contact: Ann Hatch

For immediate release — April 8, 2014

(DALLAS) — When art takes wing, it can fly into the hearts and memories of those who see it. When it fills the sky, that art represents the works of local artist and El Centro College faculty member Rosemary DesPlas; those works are part of an exhibit set to open April 15 in Shenyang, China, titled “Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art.”

DesPlas, who leaves for China as the exhibit’s installation director, also attends the show as a delegate of the Women’s Caucus for Art. The exhibit, which comprises works by 42 artists and essayists, is a cultural exchange in partnership between WCA and the LuXun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang.

The exchange draws on Chairman Mao Zedong’s statement that “Women can hold up half the sky” — a theme that continues to inspire social change across the globe and to explore how art can support those efforts, according to WCA.

The exhibition will be staged at LuXun Academy from April 15-30, and related cultural programs are scheduled from April 15-17. DesPlas will visit China and oversee the installation — which features painting, photography, performance, video and sculpture — starting April 10.

DesPlas said, “I have not exhibited in China before, and I am excited to be involved in this cultural exchange. Being a WCA delegate for ‘Half the Sky: Intersections in Social Practice Art’ allows me the opportunity to engage in face-to-face interactions with artists from another country. As an art historian, I have an appreciation for different cultures, respecting the history and legacy offered by each.”

art: "Cry Die or Just Make Pies" by Rosemary DesPlas
Rosemary DesPlas’ “Cry Die or Just Make Pies” will be part of an art exhibit in Shenyang, China.

​She adds, “This endeavor will enhance my classroom instruction and benefit my students. Cultural exchanges are based on an interchange of ideas, which helps us discover what we have in common. My role in this culture exchange is to act as a conduit. I can talk about the ideas reflected in the exhibition, offer insight into the American visual approaches to Chairman Mao’s statement and facilitate meaningful interactions during the show.”

DesPlas, who has taught at El Centro College for 14 years, says that she wove together material from art history, popular culture and community-driven topics in her works for the exhibit.

“When I think about the phrase ‘women hold up half the sky,’ my mind’s eye envisions Robert Crumb’s ‘Devil Woman,’ who crouches on thunderous thighs as she holds up the sky like a contemporary Atlas,” says DesPlas. “The correlation between my artwork and this phrase is reflected in the socio-cultural references in my pieces. In ‘Shoot at Blue Sky,’ for example, my art references a hunting phrase that aims to keep hunters safe from friendly fire. The origins in my imagery in this particular work lie in nostalgic television from the 1970s. The imagery then is fast-forwarded into the 21st century and ultimately regurgitated as images of complexity and cognitive duality.”

DesPlas believes that the ways in which women survive and sustain themselves in times of conflict is a real issue but that “its reflection in popular culture is filled with faux superficial sexy poses and hair tosses.” She adds, “In my world, woman is not only holding up half the sky. She also is protecting her piece of the pie. The correlation between the phrase ‘women hold up half the sky’ and my artwork lies in my depiction of the resilient, adaptable nature of women to survive under patriarchically contrived socio-cultural conditions.”

DesPlas currently is exhibiting other works at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in a show called “Figures: Artwork From the Permanent Collection,” which closes on May 11. She holds a bachelor’s degree in painting and drawing from the University of North Texas and a master’s degree in fine arts in painting and drawing from the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Hoffberger Program.

For more information about the China exhibit, visit:

Contact Priscilla Staley in the El Centro College marketing office for other details at (214) 860-2038 or

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