I recently came back from a 3 week trip to China, where I taught some art projects, completed a mural and lived among local residents in a tiny village in Guoyang, Ahni Provence, China. I’m going to break my posts into a few parts leading up to the mural finale.
First, after a high-speed rail and several taxis, my volunteers staff and I arrived at the village. My staff were very young, in their late teens to early 20’s. All were involved because the trip was sponsored by the Jinquan Volunteer Art Center in Shanghai. It’s a great organization to bring arts to rural areas in China. Most schools don’t have art, music and many other things. After reading an article featuring artist Kevin Macpherson and his art ambassador trips for the same purpose I went, I was inspired to do it myself. I wanted to see what kind of impact I can have in a remote village. I made my art schedule ahead of time too. Projects such as Ping-Pong paddle art, umbrellas and painting outdoors were all on my list for the kids. These kids are part of migrant families living in a farm village with little facilities compared to western standards. Heating and showers are a luxury. Luckily, I was offered a heater from the headmaster and soon my own room, which was next to the art classroom where I taught my art projects.
My trip started with a surprise snowfall and just as soon as I met some of the kids, it suddenly escalated into a full-force snowball fight! What a way to break the ice! It was the first time in years I saw snow. Soon after, the cold weather started to impact my health too, but that’s not as important as completing my mission in the village.
One project that went well was the ping-pong paddle project. The goal was to do a self-portrait on one side and symbolism of their culture on the other side. Could be relating to Chinese new year or something of their village. I wanted them to make art with a purpose, and they love ping-pong. Did it work? Yeah, I think they enjoyed this project, though I didn’t see them play with the paddles after that. They might have hid them but at least they made something special and unique.
As you can see, the students were into the projects. They first drew their ideas out on paper before painting on the paddles. This way, they can form their ideas and create a better and clear vision of their efforts. The class ranged from 6-15 students depending who wanted to show up. Part two coming soon!