TRANSFORMING OUTRAGE—A Retrospective Exhibition by Joanna Kao: November 3-26, 2017

The Piano Craft Gallery invites you to the opening reception of Transforming Outrage—A Retrospective Exhibition by Joanna Kao on Sunday afternoon, November 5, 2017, from 3:00-6:00 p.m.

Additionally, there will be an artist discussion and performance with Emma Gies, violinist and vocalist on Sunday, November 12, at 3:00 p.m., as well as a discussion with Wafaa Wahabi, Wearing the Veil, on Friday, November 17, at 7:00 p.m.

Please join us!


In Transforming Outrage—A Retrospective Exhibition, artist Joanna Kao displays work she has produced over twenty seven years. Violent suppression of the democracy movement by the Chinese government in 1989 inspired her focus on political art. Two streams joined together: the aesthetic impulse and the memory of injustices occurring in her childhood. Growing up, Kao felt her parents’ obvious preference for her younger brothertheir only sonthat originated in their Confucian Chinese upbringing. In finding common cause with other women, Kao realized that the pattern of devaluing girls and women crossed many cultures, providing material for a later exhibition. Eventually, Kao returned to the topic of family relationships with the series Hidden Geometry, works that combined old family photographs with John Ruskin’s diagrams on perspective to create visual episodes of family history.

The 2005 events of Hurricane Katrina after the levees broke initiated a new inquiry. The failure of government at all levels to address the damage of the storm transformed the crisis into a far more serious human disaster and forced public evaluation of what America stands for. Sociologist Kai Erikson wrote, "It is crucial to get this story straight, so that we may learn from it and be ready for that stark inevitability, the next time."

For much of her art, Kao aims to transform outrage. Neither knowing nor controlling how the artwork will be received, she nevertheless wants the precipitating events to be remembered. There is an unquestioned fascination with visual images of destruction and degradation. Can such tainted beauty release the meanings inherent in an image? Provoke contemplation? Affirm our shared humanity when facing the challenges ahead?

About Joanna Kao

The recipient of many art awards and residencies, Joanna Kao has shown in solo and group exhibitions in the Boston area, including the Boston, Newton, and Duxbury Public Libraries, DeCordova and Attleboro Museums, Tufts University, UMass Boston, Roxbury and Bunker Hill Community Colleges, as well as venues in the Dominican Republic, South Korea, Hangzhou and Jingdezhen in China, and in the United Nations General Assembly. On the West Coast, the Berkeley Art Center, Chinese Culture Center, and Berkeley City Club have hosted her art. Kao also curated Engendered Species, The Cultural Context of Gender, The Quality of Quantity, and Collateral Damage: When the Battle’s Lost and Won. Kao divides her time between Boston and Berkeley, California.


Gallery Hours: Fridays 5:00-8:00 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12:00-5:00 p.m., and by appointment.

The Piano Craft Gallery, dedicated to offering thought-provoking and engaging exhibitions, is a historic Boston landmark located at 793 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts. For more information, visit or

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