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March 19, 2002

UW joins Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project cultural caravan

An extensive Internet art exhibit and dozens of educational events presented by the University of Washington will enhance cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project when the international extravaganza hits Seattle starting this month.

The caravan of concerts and culture will enliven Seattle music halls, lecture halls, museums and desktops.

Nowhere else in the Silk Road Project’s global sojourn — which began in Germany last fall — has a university been so involved, said Daniel Waugh, UW history professor and Silk Road Seattle project director.

The Silk Road Project explores a region at the crossroads of East and West, from antiquity through the present day.

Waugh was 19,000 feet up a mountain in northern India, scouting the region, when he learned of the terrorist attacks of September 11.

“It made it hard to concentrate on the rest of the difficult climb,” Waugh said.

Although the Silk Road Seattle project had been planned for more than a year, Waugh realized that information about the culture and history of Central Asia would take on a new significance.

Seats for the first Silk Road Seattle event of the year, the “Wednesday University” course entitled The Silk Road Observed and Imagined, were completely sold out.

Opening next week is the Internet-based Silk Road Art exhibit, a “virtual exhibit” of unusual scope, featuring objects from Seattle Art Museum collections (many not previously displayed) and from many important museums around the world. The exhibit was created by UW faculty members and a graduate student curator, John Szostak, and is hosted on the Seattle Art Museum Web site, www.seattleartmuseum.org/silkroad.


The exhibit is just one of the UW contributions to Silk Road Seattle, which is sponsored by the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities to extend the cellist’s global vision to schoolteachers, students and the general public. The Silk Road Seattle Web site www.uwch.org/silkroad already has been selected by the History News Network as a significant resource.

Highlights of Silk Road Seattle include:

– “Art and Religion on the Silk Road,” a public lecture series featuring distinguished visiting speakers and UW faculty. [March 28-June 6 at Seattle Asian Art Museum, free with museum admission]

– “Images from the Silk Road,” an exhibition of photographs by Gary Tepfer and Wu Jian, covering the cultures of Mongolia, the Altai, and Western China, including the Buddhist Art at the Mogao Caves (a World Heritage Site) in Dunhuang. [March 13-April 10, UW's Jacob Lawrence Gallery and Burke Museum]

– “Along the Silk Road: Rugs and Textiles from Syria to China,” a textile exhibit featuring items from the renowned local collection of James Burns. [through May 12 at the UW's Henry Art Gallery]


Waugh has been leading trekking and mountain climbing expeditions in Central Asia since the early 1990s, as well as doing research on Buddhist Art in Dunhuang, China, at the Mogao Cave complex. He is joined in directing the project by UW professors Cynthea Bogel and Joel Walker, with additional support provided by the Silkroad Foundation, Seattle Arts and Lectures, Seattle Art Museum and various departments at the University of Washington.

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For more information, contact Waugh at (206) 616-8408 or dwaugh@u.washington.edu or Margit Dementi, associate director of the Simpson Center at (206) 543-3920 or mdementi@u.washington.edu. The Web sites are www.uwch.org/silkroad and www.silkroadproject.org.