LAWRENCE — Most people have heard of the Silk Route, the long road that traversed the Asian continent and along which spices and silk and other commodities made their way in both directions. But few have heard of La Ruta de Plata. Also known as La Nao de China (roughly translated as "The China Ship"), the maritime route was used to bring silver from Latin America to China by way of Manila.
The Nao of China and the Ruta de Plata were the original inspirations for a current project titled "Nao Now." This project was conceived and realized by Valerie Campos, a Mexican artist who instituted a cultural exchange with China. Campos is currently an artist in residence at the Lawrence Arts Center.
To bring the project to the attention of a wider audience, Campos, along with curator Pablo Rico and University of Kansas professors Megan Greene, history, Gregory Cushman, history, and Ketty Wong-Cruz, music, will sit on a panel to discuss the cultural exchange, both past and present, between these two very different regions.
“'Nao Now' … aims to restore and reinvent cultural and artistic connections between two great realities of the historical and contemporary Pacific area, Mexico and China," Rico said. "If, for centuries, 'The Nao of China' was the commercial and cultural vehicle that remained in constant contact between the Far East and the New Spain, 'Nao Now' is its heir, determined to reclaim the values of art and culture in a globalized world where we need to believe in a future beyond merely the economic and trade aspects, especially in a new universal humanism."
The panel discussion will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the Kansas Room of the Kansas Union. The event is free and open to the public. Tea and cookies will be served.
The event is sponsored by the KU centers for East Asia Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Global and International Studies, and the KU Global Awareness Program and the Lawrence Arts Center. Five points of GAP credit will be given to students.
More information is available online about the "Nao Now" exhibition on display at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St.