Hsueh-man Shen specializes in the art and archaeology of medieval China. Her research interests lie primarily in the intersection between mortuary and religious practices, as well as the interplay of word and image in the visual culture of pre-modern China. Shen’s research in the past decade focus on the art and material culture of the Liao, exploring notions such as the body and ‘zhen’(real, true, or authentic) in both ritual and funerary contexts, while making references to the hybrid nature of the Liao culture. She also wrote about the materiality and spirituality concerning Chinese ceramics, bronzes and glass. Her recent research on the art in relation to Chinese Buddhism deals with the representation of abstract or philosophical concepts, looking into the ways in which the omnipresent yet invisible truth, and the liminal state of being are embodied in visual terms.
Prior to her arrival at the IFA in 2009, Hsueh-man Shen served as the Foster Foundation Associate Curator of Chinese Art at the Seattle Art Museum, Senior Curator of China at the National Museums Scotland, and subsequently taught at the University of Edinburgh, U.K. She was a 2008-2009 Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute for Advanced Study) in Berlin, and is the recipient of a Collaborative Research Grant from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange for research on the project ‘Evolution of Tang-dynasty Buddhist Imagery in Sichuan’ (2008 - 2011).
Currently she is completing a book, which explores the transition and transformation in the visual arts of China during the long tenth century. A separate line of her research concerns the issue of translation – at both linguistic and artistic levels, and assesses the role of translation in establishing the intellectual genealogy of Chinese art. The result of this research project will be presented in a book manuscript for publication.