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Professional Development

UMMA offers teacher workshops several times a year. Workshops include interactive gallery tours, hands-on art making, and take-home packets for personal and classroom use. The atmosphere is friendly and allows teachers from different districts to meet and socialize with each other. UMMA's workshops have been recognized by ArtServe Michigan and have recieved high marks from participants.

Comments from the evaluations of teachers attending workshops in 2012/13 include:

"I had a fabulous time and gained a lot of resources and inspiration for my classroom. I look forward to attending future workshops."
"Excellent! I learned new engagement strategies."

"I liked the different perspectives (historical/curatorial and classroom)."

Xu Weixin: Monumental Portraits
UMMA Workshop for Educators
Saturday, April 23, 2016
8:45 a.m.–2 p.m.

Xu Weixin
Right: Huang Shuai from Chinese Historical Figures: 1966–1976, 2005–2012, oil on canvas, 98 2/5 x 78 3/4 in. (250 x 200 cm.) Courtesy of Taikang Collection and Taikang Space
Left: Miner Liu Jinsuo from Miner Portraits, 2005–2015, oil on canvas 98 2/5 x 78 3/4 in. (250 x 200 cm.) Private collection

Usually, a portrait records a person’s features but sometimes, as in the work of the important contemporary Chinese painter, Xu Weixin, a portrait records much, much more. The exhibition Xu Weixin: Monumental Portraits focuses on two of this artist's portrait series: Miner Portraits and Chinese Historical Figures: 1966–1976. By portraying these individuals with monumentality and poignant realism, Xu Weixin brings our focus to their lives and ordeals, inviting an emotional connection. Chinese Historical Figures depicts people who lived—known and unknown, and some of whom eventually perished—during the turbulent time of the Cultural Revolution. The subjects in Miner Portraits are coal miners working in harsh conditions in contemporary China. Reflecting the artist’s deep interest in the human condition, these single-person portraits challenge our expectations and compel us to see beyond official narratives of historical events and social conditions.

This stunning and impactful exhibition offers history teachers an opportunity to explore the complex and momentous events that took place in 20th century China and also provides teachers of art and literature the chance to explore historical personalities and contemporary identity. This workshop will combine a historical overview of 20th century China, a look at portraits in Chinese culture, and a hands-on project exploring self and historical figures. It will feature gallery talks by Helmut F Stern Professor of Chinese Studies, Xiaobing Tang, and UMMA curator of Asian art, Natsu Oyobe. Participants will be drawn into Professor Tang’s engaging teaching and his comprehensive understanding of Chinese history, and Dr. Oyobe’s knowledge of the UMMA collection will bring historical portraits to life. As always, we will have a delectable lunch and include a folder of resources for you and your students.

Reservations: please email Mary LaVenture at
Registration: advance payment of $40 required.
4 SCECHs available: please bring a checkbook to cover $10.00 for official transcript fee.
Directions and parking: click here.
Questions: please email Pam Reister at

This workshop is generously supported by the Monroe-Brown Foundation Discretionary Fund for Outreach to the State of Michigan.

Lead support for Xu Weixin: Monumental Portraits is provided by the University of Michigan Health System, University of Michigan Office of the President, and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Confucius Institute, Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, Beijing Fu Zhan Zhou Culture Art Development Co. Ltd, Boylescott Limited, and University of Michigan Ross School of Business China Initiatives.