Ai Weiwei Discussion: Global Artist, Borderless Humanist, Contemporary Emperor
Ai Weiwei is one of the most compelling and provocative figures working in the spheres of international art and political activism today. His extraordinary range of activities is unparalleled among his creative peers—from large-scale museum exhibitions that reference traditional Chinese art forms to candid Instagram posts at impoverished refugee camps around the world, Ai Weiwei’s fearless spirit and commitment to human rights are widely recognized as the heart of his practice. In recent years, Ai Weiwei’s powerful stance regarding freedom of expression has established him as an outspoken leader concerning the plight of humanity today.
Taliesin Thomas has worked in the field of contemporary Chinese art since living for two years in rural China (1999-2001). Since 2007 she is the founding director of AW Asia in New York. AW Asia is a private arts organization that promotes the field of contemporary Chinese art through institutional loans, museum acquisitions, curatorial projects, and publishing.
For the last decade, Thomas has worked closely with Ai Weiwei’s studio to oversee the management of the Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads (2010) sculpture series and world tour in addition to other special projects with the artist.
Thomas has lectured widely on contemporary Chinese art including The University of Boulder, CO; The Ringling Museum of Art, FL; The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, CA; School of Visual Arts, NY; The Warhol Museum, PA; Brattleboro Museum, VT; University of South Florida, FL; and the Universidade de Lisboa/Faculdade de Belas-Artes, Lisbon, Portugal; Bennington College, VT; and the former Chelsea Art Museum, NY.
Thomas holds an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Columbia University and she is a Ph.D. candidate in Art Theory and Philosophy with the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts concurrent with her professional role in the art world.