Patrick Dowdey is the Curator of the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies at Wesleyan University and Assistant Professor of Anthropology. His main research interests are the Anthropology of Art, Art Worlds, Museums, Technology and Material Culture. His geographic area of specialization is China.
Mr. Dowdey has been involved in museums and exhibition work for over thirty years. He has worked on exhibitions which range from the work of contemporary East Asian artists through Meso-American ceramics to Roman Portrait Heads and the Perfumes of the Ancient World. At Wesleyan his exhibitions have included "Green Dragon Town Village," a forty foot long woodcut scroll by artist Xu Zhong'ou, "Zen Pilgrimage of a Photo Thief" a set of photographs of Japanese Zen Buddhist Temples by William Johnston, "Streets of Kyoto: Photographs by Kai Fusayoshi, " and "Dorje Basang's Bead Mandala." The artwork for all of these exhibitions was borrowed for the exhibition from the artists in East Asia. All of the exhibitions at the Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies are developed there and many have traveled to other galleries and museums. Mr. Dowdey has also arranged artists' residencies by East Asian artists who make extended stays on the Wesleyan campus. He has also developed a Curatorial Assistant Program in which undergraduates develop at least one exhibition a year—"The Fun History Book of Japan," which presented an album of paintings of historical events and figures in Japan from the 1920's, was a student-curated exhibition.
Mr. Dowdey has conducted extensive fieldwork in East Asia, including Suzhou, Sichuan, Northern Shaanxi, Beijing and Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China, Kyoto in Japan and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. He has also worked in radio, television and artist book publishing (including his book Heartbeat, Nexus Press, Atlanta, 1984).
Mr. Dowdey's publications also include the exhibition catalogues, Threads of Light: Chinese Embroidery from Suzhou and the Photography of Robert Glenn Ketchum (UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History: 1998) and Portrait of Korea: Living Through the Forgotten War (Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies and The Korea Society: 2003). His Ph. D. dissertation, Experiencing Life: An Ethnography of a Sichuan Art World (UCLA, 1998), explores the relationship between practice and the structure of an art world based on the history of the Sichuan Artist's Association, famous in China for the quality and variety of their woodcuts, especially of Tibetan and Yi peoples of western Sichuan.