*This is the first of a series of five documenting a Chinese voyage on how humanity and art has no borders and needs no translation. A sense of home can be found in unexpected places despite distance.
13 hours and 15 minutes. 6,168 miles. Sitting on an airplane, I couldn’t help wonder about the world of Shanghai traveling from San Francisco. What would be different and the same? Arriving with everything and nothing, my expectations know better to not define the unknown.
My artwork had been included in an exhibit at 188Art in Shanghai. When first receiving an acceptance email, I was skeptical. A venue in a foreign country wanted me to be part of the Surpass Sino-America Artists China Art tour, exhibit, and symposium. After almost 1500 artist proposals, this had never occurred. Was this for real?
The first day of the excursion included a ceremony for the 188Art online launch. My husband Chris and I were asked to speak with Chinese media present. Afterwards, it was dinner with former AAU student Qianhui De at a rabbit meat themed restaurant where frosted beer and spicy food mixed well for this vegetarian.
Then we traversed the subway. It was clean with instructions to purchase tickets in English. I was surprised at its ease. No litter, homeless, or graffiti. Smoking is everywhere and for this “soft” Californian, a new experience.
Then Qianhui guided us to the Minsheng Art Museum where works of Jenny Holzer and Gucci adorned the walls. Each room was meticulously crafted displaying a curator’s dream of unlimited resources. There were no flaws.
Walking back to the train, the lights were bright with organized patterns. Escalators move down on the left and up on the right. The station had an artwork exhibit celebrating 11 on the interior support beams. Art in downtown Shanghai can be found everywhere and be luxurious. The city and construction mimic the universe.
The next day was the opening. With two former students in attendance, Qianhui and Tiffany, a part of home engaged in the celebration. Only 25 foreign artworks from 350 submissions were accepted. Members from the Yellowstone Asia Initiative and Montana Arts Council were present. FAW Toyota Crown was a key sponsor of the exhibit. It was an epic opening of no other comparisons. Media was abundant and energy high.
Afterwards, a welcome banquet of abundant Chinese cuisine with talented artists and supporters celebrated together. As part of a gift lottery, I won rare Tibet worms and fungus called yartsa gunbu that provide healing properties. According to National Geographic: “Yaks that graze on it, legend holds, grow in strength tenfold. One of the earliest known descriptions of yartsa comes from a 15th-century Tibetan text, titled An Ocean of Aphrodisiacal Qualities, which raves about the ‘faultless treasure’ that ‘bestows inconceivable advantages’ on those who ingest it.
The generosity was astounding and surreal. How does one translate this experience?
This was the first two days…