Under One Moon

Drawing and talking in China

Liza Donnelly
Dec 17, 2018 · 4 min read
A guard on the perimeter of Tiananmen Square, Beijing, standing by camera-laden lamposts

I was invited to travel to China to speak to groups about the power of cartoons to express issues around free speech and women’s rights. My host was the China Women’s Film Festival. They believe that art is a way to express important concerns and can do so in a powerful way. (I share drawings of my trip in this post)

In the slide show of cartoons I brought , I chose ones that I felt would translate across the language and cultural barrier. I showed New Yorker cartoons as well as my political cartoons from Medium. My goal was two-fold: to provide an example of myself as a woman who overcame insecurity and doubt and who learned how to speak my opinion in my work; and to show how cartoons — and art in general — can express the politics of life, and more specifically the politics of being a woman. I spoke at the Dutch Embassy, Shaanxi Normal University, a workshop at the CWFF office, Xi’an Academy of Art and the OCAT Museum ( article on my visit). I met with women from the Shaanxi Research Association for Women and Family . I was interviewed several times, and did a video interview with vlogger, Ooh Lavi.

I loved talking with all the students, teachers, community members and activists. They asked many questions, some very difficult and I was challenged to find answers that would be of help, or shine light on our country and the concerns of women. In terms of women’s rights, how are our cultures different, how are they the same? How can art make a difference? How does one express oneself, considering internal and external, as well as cultural, personal, political barriers?

I, of course, believe art can make a difference, if only a small one. If nothing else, it helps us show our common humanity.

Here are a few of the drawings I shared:

Of all the images I brought to show, there was one that the censors instructed that I not show at the university. I could discuss sexual harrassment, rape, inequality in the world, but I was asked not to show this cartoon (on the left).

On my last day, I was fortunate to meet four women who are actively working to help women through their art and teaching, and also through the Women’s Studies Center at Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an. Here we are with my host, Li Dan, director of the China Women’s Film Festival.

L to R: Artist and writer Tong Yijie, writer Wang Meiuing, director of China Women’s FIlm Festival Li Dan, Professor of Women’s Studies Wang Yanping, director of Women’s Studies Center, Normal University Huang Dong Xiu.

When not meeting with this commuity of people — and some of whom I know I will see again — I was walking and drawing. I share the drawings in the next post.

At the beginning of my journey, when my plane was about to land in Beijing, I noticed the moon outside my window. It dawned on me that this moon is the same moon I see at home.

We all live under one moon.

Liza Donnelly

Written by

Cartoonist/writer for New Yorker, CBS News, CNN, Author, performer, TED and SXSW speaker, Barnard Fellow. Looking to change world w humor. lizadonnelly.com

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