Fletcher Coleman is a specialist on the religious arts of China, whose research spans the early medieval through early modern periods. His current project examines antiquarian conventions used by Western scholars in the formation of East Asian art history as an academic discipline in the U.S. circa 1900-1955. Focusing on the practices of plaster cast collecting in the West and ink rubbing in Asia, he argues that the intersection of these traditions became a foundation for early museum restoration practices and the teaching of East Asian art in America.
Beyond his current project, Coleman has published on depictions of ascetic groups in the early Buddhist art of western China. He also has a strong interest in traditional Chinese print and papermaking practices. Coleman regularly hosts international symposia with the research academies of Buddhist cave sites, as well as artisans from acclaimed studios such as the Rongbaozhai print atelier in Beijing.