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Chinese Photographer and Writer Is Fall Semester Lenna Scholar at SBU and JCC

Zola Cao in Shanghai
Credits: Zola Cao
Credits: Zola Cao
Credits: Zola Cao

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY -- St. Bonaventure University will welcome Chinese photographer and writer Zola Cao to campus as the Lenna Visiting Scholar this fall semester.

He will visit St. Bonaventure and Jamestown Community College for lectures and classroom discussions. An exhibition of his photography, “We, The People: An Album of the Chinese People,” is on view at SBU in the Mezzanine Gallery of the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts from Aug. 23 through Nov. 19. 

This exhibition features a collection of photographs by Cao, whose work reflects his deep love for the Chinese people’s daily life.

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Cao thinks writing, music and photography have a lot in common. Photography delivers the human instinct like no other media. The impact of such an art form echoes with a wide audience because each photo captures the melodious mood fluctuation of the photographer and of the person sealed in the photograph, he said.

With a background in medicine, the Chinese army and later in business management, Cao began to develop his creative side by combining photography and writing. His work published in the mainstream media in China includes “The Weight of an Empty Pear” and “Tasting Grapes.”

In 2012, he began to expand his creative endeavors by writing an internet novel combined with his photography. His work includes “Holly Root: A Conversation with Gu Cheng,” “The Legacy of Dong Chuan” and “Average Doctor.”

In 2013, he compiled a collection of his photography experiences into “The 5W1H of Photography.”

In his deliberately untitled works featured in “We, the People,” Cao hopes viewers will find their own perspectives and ideas, inspired by each person’s love and beauty.

Cao will present a talk on his life and work at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 in the Quick Center’s Rigas Family Theater. The public is invited.

He will also be the guest speaker at the Aug. 31 Thursday Forum for St. Bonaventure faculty, staff and students. The program begins at 11:30 a.m. in the University Club. Cao will discuss the use of photography in treating the mentally ill.

Cao is being hosted at SBU by faculty members Barry L. Gan, Patrick Dooley and Nora Dooley. Gan’s wife, Miaoli Zhang, has known Cao since his days in medical school, and she not only helped to develop many of Cao’s negatives in the 1980s but introduced his work to Olympus of China when she worked there as the company’s academic coordinator and marketing director in Shanghai. 

Zhang introduced the Dooleys to Cao during a visit to China, and they quickly suggested that SBU display some of Cao’s work at the Quick Center for the Arts. Zhang then worked during the past year to coordinate the communication and the selection of photos between Cao and the university.

Faculty members who would like to invite Cao to a class should contact Gan at Cao is leaving campus Sept. 14.

The Lenna Endowed Visiting Professorship, established in 1990, is funded through gifts from the late Betty S. Lenna Fairbank and Reginald A. Lenna of Jamestown. It is designed to bring scholars of stature in their field to St. Bonaventure University and Jamestown Community College for public lectures.

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