Emma Wolpert explores her Chinese roots at BAYarts

Children playing "train" at the Chinese orphanage where Emma Wolpert was taken after being abandoned. She was later adopted by a Bay Village family. Photo by Emma Wolpert

This month, BAYarts has an exhibition that hits close to home. In "Finding My Home, Finding Myself," photographer Emma Wolpert displays images taken on a return visit to Huazhou, China. It was there that she was abandoned at a bus stop and taken to an orphanage.

The orphanage Wolpert was taken to is called Huazhou Social Welfare Institution, founded back in 1930. Prior to 1995, children had to live there until age 18 when they got a job, or else they stayed at the orphanage. But in November 1995 the orphanage allowed some of the children to be adopted. That April, Wolpert was adopted (at 8 months old) and then raised in Bay Village.

Photographs in the exhibit include Wolpert's health records and information booklet as kept by the orphanage, the bus station she was found at, and scenery on the train ride as she, her mother and older sister traveled from Guangzhou to Huazhou.

Wolpert says she has a strong connection with her adoptive family. "I'm the youngest in the family with two older sisters who I've always been close to, especially since I've graduated college. I think a major reason why my family and I have a strong connection is because we have always been very open about my adoption. Since I was young, my parents have strived to keep my Chinese heritage prominent in the family life."

For Wolpert, her journey has largely been defined by art. As a junior in high school, her interest in photography was piqued. She then minored in photography during college. These days, she has "2 DSLR cameras, 4 lenses, and many more photo gadgets!" Her passion for the art form is deep, and she conveys this easily. "I love the idea of pausing a moment in time and having the ability to change someone's perspective," she explains. "Photography allows you to see things on a deeper level, in my opinion."

It is simplicity that often appeals to this young photographer. "You go out into the world and see everything in it, but you pick up on the most minute things that most people just walk right by. Someone reading a book on a park bench could tell such a beautiful story as a photograph. I love turning the simplest subjects into something interesting."

According to Wolpert, art itself in any application is important. And she speaks to that in an eloquent way. "I think art allows people to tap into themselves and find pieces and parts they never knew existed. Everything else in my life is enhanced when art is involved in my life because art allows me to feel more. Whether I am creating art or looking at someone else's, I know it will make me feel and I think that is a very human thing that keeps you in touch with who you are."

Wolpert says she wishes only happiness for her birth family. 

This exhibit is on display in the Diane Boldman Education Gallery until Feb. 1. 

Jessica Stockdale

Jessica Stockdale is the Marketing Manager at BAYarts.

BAYarts is a cultural arts campus that features education, exhibition and events. 

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:46 AM, 01.21.2020