Bonnie Cheng is a joint appointment in the Department of Art and Department of East Asian Studies. She teaches courses in Chinese and Japanese art that span ancient to modern eras. Her topical classes include courses on imperial Chinese painting and ceramics, ukiyo-e, and modern Chinese Art. Thematic courses explore Monuments, Death and Dying in East Asia, and perspectives on Cultural Property. She has also taught a course for the FYSP entitled, Contested Sites: the Politics of Art and Space.
Her research explores innovative modes of production, materiality, artistic exchange, and the construction of political and social identities in early medieval Chinese funerary art. She focuses primarily on the intersection of competing media and motivations of the living and dead within the space of the tomb.
She has published several articles on sculpted tomb figurines, stone tomb furniture, painted murals, including an article in Archives of Asian Art (2007); an invited essay on circumventing imperial burial prescriptions in the tomb of Li Xian in Yishu yu kexue [Art and Science] (2007); an article theorizing artistic exchange in Ars Orientalis (2010); an invited chapter onmingqi for the Blackwell Companion to Asian Art (2011), an essay in Studies in Ancient Tomb Art (2011), among others.
She is completing a manuscript entitled, The Status of Authority: Tombs and Political Spaces of the Northern Dynasties, which explores tombs of rulers and military officials and considers the role of ethnicity and political expediency in the appropriation and adaptation of artistic traditions.
Her work has been supported by grants from the Fulbright-Hays DDRA, the Committee for Scholarly Communication with China, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies.