Cultural Studies Leuven

Asian Art: an Online Portal to Asian Art in Belgium

In our master Cultural Studies we keep up with modern advancements and theories in our field, and nothing highlights this more than our course on Online Publishing. This year we asked our students to create their own cultural website in teams up to 5 people. The results were more than satisfactory, and in some cases we were blown away by the design and creativity of our students.
Below you’ll find a short article on how one of these groups went to work to create a beautiful and useful website.


Our journey started with an assignment from the Online Publishing course within the Master of Cultural Studies from the KU Leuven.  Five international students coming from different countries and continents found each other through a common love for Asian art.  The term is broad and encompasses a wide variety of expressions such as painting, sculpture, calligraphy, and dance among others; and different mediums: paper, canvas, bronze, ceramics, etc.  There we were: five heads, one passion, and a world of possibilities. Fortunately, there was also one goal, which helped us to start drawing some lines and define what was to become that Asian art website.

There was the brainstorming moment, in which the sky was the limit, and ideas were generated.  But we had to keep it feasible and realistic, so the main boundaries were defined: a portal that consolidated the different venues related to Asian art in Belgium, in other words, we wanted to aggregate in one location the information about art galleries, museums, institutes, and other institutions in Belgium dealing with our topic.  Then we moved on to the next step: identifying the available sources.  So we selected and collected the relevant information partially manually and partially using features offered in existing tools such as “feed” in Drupal Gardens. Oh! By the way, by that moment we had already decided to use Drupal Gardens instead of a fully-fledged installed version of Drupal. First of all because we agreed that Drupal Gardens offered all (or at least most) of the features we needed, further it would be simpler to split the work over an online tool and avoid having to synchronize/consolidate bits and pieces of work from each of us. The following step was to reflect and organize how we wanted to share what we have collected. We decided to group the items by the main actions in the visitor’s mind, in other words, was the user looking for a place to visit and explore Asian art, or was she/he looking for galleries to buy some artworks, or a place to learn? This helped us keep the structure and navigation simple and shallow, which meant that the information was readily available instead of buried under multiple pages (clicks). Hence, we also added the maps to the end of each page.  Regarding the look and feel, we wanted to keep it clean, artsy, and convey the Zen philosophy. Lastly we also wanted to connect our site to social networks not only as a means of “spreading the word”, but also as a solution to providing a platform in which people could discuss topics and post news in a fairly independent location, i.e.: not within the website itself.

In summary, our main steps were as follows:

Of course it didn’t always run smoothly from one bullet point to the next, and we had some bumps and frustrations along the road, but we suppose it is part of most endeavours. We are happy that we kept moving and hopefully others will have a chance to visit us at http://asianartbe.drupalgardens.com/ !

Daniela Barroso, Aida Khosa, Margarita Konstantinou, Natalia Qi, Noah Zhao