Tag Archives: China

Art Trip to China, Part three

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Standing tall and getting it done! Fun in the China sun!

In parts two and three, I talked about my impressions of China as well as the Chinese village I stayed at.  My goals were to provide excellent art projects and a mural.  And yes, there was a friend called Adversity that I met.  This friend was responsible for giving me challenges, such as learning to squat in the bathroom, driving on the back of a scooter with one of my volunteers every morning to the local town bathhouse to take a hot shower.  Eating a lot of unique Chinese food.  Most were good, some not as much.  But what really turned my world was the fact I got sick again.  My voice became a whisper and I was coughing heavily.  I felt cursed in a way, I needed my voice to help communicate and instruct for the projects.

However, the volunteers really helped me out.  Brought some food and helped with my lessons.  When you’re sick, it’s hard not to feel so miserable, but I also reminded myself to keep my chin up and make the best of the situation.  It was also so cold most of my time there, I mean like a Russian coldspell.  I don’t do so well in the cold, and it made my health worse.  But my saving grace was to do a mural.  I can let my mind and spirit embrace the the art instead of my health.

I came up with the basic design and concept.  I wanted to bring the village to the world, have the children represented well and highlight the landscape.  During my stay, I had many different ideas and each passing day brought some more clarity what I wanted my mural to look like.  I wanted the students to participate too.  And so they did, along with the volunteers.  It was important that everyone wanted to get involved.  This mural was on a part of the school wall too, and I wanted to use the red edges as “bookends” to a great story of a mural.

The mural turned out great, better than I expected.  The kids and staff had a great time doing this.  Makes me feel good that I could help do something like this in a remote part of the world where the arts barely exists.  I just wanted to do something great for a community of people I’ve grown to enjoy and appreciate very much.  IMG_4840

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The crew! I appreciate all the kindness and experience there was here.

 

Art Trip to China, part two

My own room next door to the art classroom

My own room next door to the art classroom

Since our last journal episode (part one), I moved from a shared place to my own place, thanks to the headmaster of the school.  It was great because I started coming down with getting sick and I was worried to get others sick.  So I welcomed the privacy and becoming isolated.  Plus with heaters, I needed the warmth, the cold was not doing my health any good.  So my living situation did improve.  My health was another story.  But the show must go on, right?

Two students happily lost in a drawing

Two students happily lost in a drawing

One of the other highlights of the art projects was taking the class outdoors.  I scouted the area before and thought that it would make a great place to relax and create art.  Away from noise, cars and other distractions.  It was a 10 minute walk from school in the Chinese farmland.  After a quick demo drawing, the kids just scattered on their own to find their patch of grass and started to draw and paint.  I didn’t have to tell them that, they instinctively knew what to do.  I encouraged and pointed out subjects at least, such as ducks, the farmland, water, homes, etc…

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During the project, I finally talked with one of the people living in the village.  An older woman who was friends of a local family, was caretaker of this girl toddler.  She was about 18 months old, very big, quiet and cute.  But in her short life, she already dealt with adversity.  Her brothers didn’t seem to like her, and abused her enough that the caretaker intervened to help the child.  I could never understand why little boys could ever behave that way towards their little sister, but at least the baby has a chance to grow up without violence around her.  I never got her name, as the caretaker was telling me her story, and one of the volunteers was there to help translate.  I’m considering doing a painting portrait of this little girl.  It’s gonna being something special.

Caretaker and the baby

Caretaker and the baby

After 90 minutes outdoors, the kids did a fab job creating a variety of scenes in the area.  I sensed they had a deeper appreciation of the area too.  This project to me was so important to connect with nature and disconnect with time wasters like phones, social media and other stuff teens are into.  Art can help slow things down, take in everything and just be.  I hope the kids experienced that.

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The group of young artists

Later on, I asked what project did the kids like the most, and many of them said this outdoor one.  I’m glad, because being out in nature is healing for anyone.

Part 3 with the big mural coming soon!

Art Trip to China, part one

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My volunteer staff (Rae-Rae and Jasmine in black/maroon scarfs) and students.

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.

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Many paths in the farm 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.

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Students happy with their new paddles

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!China_Class_1