Welcome to this website featuring my writings on Chinese art and Chinese history.  I am a historian teaching courses on art history and world history at Middlesex Community College, in Bedford and Lowell, MA, USA. I earned a masters in Regional Studies--East Asia at Harvard University in 1986 and a doctorate in Chinese history at Brown University in 2003. Previously I taught at Rhode Island School of Design, Boston University, University of Massachusetts, Boston and Mount Hoyoke College.



My book The Art of Resistance: Painting by Candlelight in Mao's China was published by University of Washington Press in November 2017. It tells the story of seven artists who suffered greatly during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76).  They are: Shi Lu 石鲁 (1919-82), Feng Zikai 丰子恺 (1898-1975), Pan Tianshou 潘天寿 (1897-1971), Li Kuchan 李苦禅 (1898-1983), Li Keran 李可染 (1907-89), Ding Cong 丁聪 (1916-2009) and Huang Yongyu 黄永玉 (b. 1924). These artists stood up for creative autonomy. All found opportunities to maintain their connection to art despite the turmoil around them. Their stories reveal a fierce personal independence rooted in Chinese art and philosophy.

 Book trailer video for Shelley Hawks' Art of Resistance




I’ve just launched my new film The Lotus and the Red Star: Conversations with Chinese Artists (February 14, 2018) in four separate parts. It can be accessed at no cost on my author's page at the Art History Publications Initiative (AHPI) http://arthistorypi.org/books/art-of-resistance or on YouTube. The Lotus and the Red Star is a companion piece to my book, The Art of Resistance: Painting by Candlelight in Mao’s China.  I collaborated with photographer Jon Burris and film editor David Sharp to produce The Lotus and the Red Star based on my interviews with Chinese artists and art historians in 2016.  My narration is in English but most of the artists speak in Chinese, so I’ve provided English subtitles for those sequences.

Part One on Li Kuchan:
Part One focuses on bird-and-flower painter Li Kuchan (1898-1983) and features interviews with the artist’s son, painter Li Yan (b. 1943), and art historian Wan Qingli (1945-2017).

Part Two on Li Keran:
Part Two focuses on Li Keran (1907-1989) who paints both landscapes and figures.  The film addresses his ink painting of a stubborn water buffalo on the cover of my book, and features interviews with the artist’s son, painter Li Geng (b. 1950), and art historians, Sun Meilan (b. 1953) and Wan Qingli (1945-2017).
Part Three on Lin Fengmian, Huang Yongyu, and Shi Lu:
Part Three focuses on three painters:  Lin Fengmian (1900-1991), Huang Yongyu (b. 1924) and Shi Lu (1919-1982). It features interviews with art historian Wan Qingli (1945-2017), painter Yang Mingyi (b. 1943) and Shi Lu’s daughter, painter Shi Dan (b. 1956).
Part Four: Beyond the Cultural Revolution:
Part Four features interviews with painter Wang Huaiqing (b. 1944) and his daughter, painter Wang Tiantian (b. 1974) and concludes with a discussion of painter Pan Tianshou (1897-1971) and his son painter Pan Gongkai (b. 1947). 


To learn more and to view the film, visit http://arthistorypi.org/books/art-of-resistance



Shelley Drake Hawks’ 2018 Book Talks for
The Art of Resistance: Painting by Candlelight in Mao’s China
(University of Washington Press, 2017)



  • Tuesday, February 6, noon-1:00pm, Middlesex Community College, Lowell campus, 33 Kearney Square, Federal Building, Assembly Room off lobby.
  • Thursday, February 8, 7:00-8:30pm, Three Stones Gallery, 115 Commonwealth Avenue, West Concord, MA.  Special event for “Views from the East,” featuring 8 artists inspired by Asian traditions. Shelley Hawks co-curated the show with Jennifer Johnston.  The Feb 8 event will feature artists, curators, and Chinese musician Tai-Chun Pan.
  • Sunday, February 18, 3:00-4:00 pm, Diesel Bookstore, Brentwood Country Mart, 225 26th Street, Suite 33, Santa Monica, CA. 
  • Friday, March 9, 7:00-8:00pm, Boswell Book Company, 2559 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee, WI. 
  • Wednesday, March 21, 12:00-2:00, Women’s Parish Association luncheon, First Parish Church, 20 Lexington Road, Concord, MA. 
  • 4 Wednesdays, March 28-April 24, 10:00-11:30AM, Concord-Carlisle Adult Education, Village University, Newbury Court, Community Rm, 100 Newbury Ct., Concord, MA.
  • Monday, April 2, 7:00-8:00pm, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA. 
  • Wednesday, April 18, 3:00-4:00pm, Suffolk University, 73 Tremont St., Boston, MA.
  • Monday, April 23, 5:00-6:30pm, Brandeis University, 415 South St., Waltham, MA.
  • Tuesday, July 10, 7:00-8:00pm, Porter Square Bookstore, 25 White Street, Cambridge, MA.