Wilma Fairbank

The Work of Wilma Fairbank


Arriving in Peking in 1932 to marry John Fairbank, Wilma Fairbank found herself “suddenly immersed in sensory stimuli so fresh and immediate” that she became overwhelmed.

As a response to this new world around her, she began to spontaneously draw and paint the people, places, and adventures that interested her and that she grew to love. She also wrote brief comments to accompany her images, in order to try to further capture the impact that China, and in particular Peking, had on her. These images and words offer a glimpse of what life was like for Wilma Fairbank during her time in China in the 1930s, and allow us to experience a part of the Fairbank’s journey from that era. These works of art will be on display in a new exhibition at the Fairbank Center in fall 2016 to coincide with our 60th anniversary celebration.

Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies