Xinjie (Addison) Wang: Art History


Catherine Regen

Xinjie, or Addison, Wang came to Wake Forest in the fall of 2015 from China. As her career of being an international student began, she focused on experiencing as many different aspects of American culture as she could. A major draw was the size of the Wake Forest community: broad enough for a diverse experience, but small enough for “more intimate interactions with my fellow students and faculties.”

She wasn’t always an art history major, as she had been on the computer science track up until the end of her sophomore year. It was then that she was drawn to the “intellectual challenges posed by studying humanities.” In order for her major to change, she changed her mindset. 

“I realized that studying art is not a pretentious hobby, but involves keen observation and rigid thinking,” she said. 

With her foundation in computer science, Wang was uniquely posed to view art from a different perspective. 

“I’m nevertheless very grateful for my math and CS training because it greatly improved my ability to think logically and solve problems systematically, which I do in art history all the time,” she said. “[But,] art history completely changed my perspective of and approach to things in life.”

Her favorite memory at Wake Forest wasn’t actually on campus, but rather at the Casa Artom, when her art class traveled to Venice for the Venice Biennale. The trip was for a class that the art department offers every two years: the first half consists of class time doing research in the spring semester, then goes on-site to experience the ceremonies in person during the summer. She described the experience as “simply amazing,” noting the unique opportunity to experience one of the most important events in the art world firsthand. The travel experience was new for her, but was an incredibly enriching experience.

She identifies her greatest accomplishment of her time at Wake Forest that she will graduate with honors and that she has completed her honors thesis on the Great Mosque of Xi’an. She was able to study the mosque in person when she received the Richter Grant to travel around China and explore China’s 15 oldest mosques. 

This might be tied with her selection to be a member of the Student Union Art Acquisition Committee. Wang was one of six students chosen for this prestigious opportunity. They were entrusted with $100,000 by the school to purchase artwork that reflected their generation of students for the Wake Forest community. Wang selected a photograph by Bill Orcutt entitled “Over My Dead Body,” which is now located on the fifth floor of Benson. She described the experience as a “big responsibility but we managed to do it.”

After graduating, Wang will attend the University of Chicago to pursue a masters degree in humanities. She will also begin studying Arabic this summer. She is not sure about future career plans, but she hopes her work will be art or education-related.