*This is the final of three writings exploring the transformative power of art. It unites different cultures while exposing common humanity. A trip revisited to China deepens connections abroad and at home…
Shanghai is a city of modern architecture mixed with history and over 24 million people. My birthplace of Stevens Point, Wisconsin has a population of almost 27,000. It’s no wonder in my art practice, I explore binary relationships to discover connections and patterns. Art has provided this opportunity and perspective.
China continues to amaze with a visit to the Long Museum West Bund. The institution is a masterpiece. Its soaring ceilings, open spaces, minimalistic aesthetic, and meticulously picked materials guide visitors with ease. Just when the experience couldn’t get any better, artist Olafur Eliasson: Nothingness is not nothing at all stunned.
From the museum’s website, Eliasson: “I wanted to amplify the feeling of the cavernous museum galleries by installing artworks that invite visitors to look inwards, to question how their senses work, and dream up utopias for everyday life. Reality is what we make it to be – it is what we see, sense, think, feel, and do. It is also what things, artworks, spaces, and cities do to us. Art challenges our perspective on the world, turns it upside down, or suggests alternative views – I hope visitors to the exhibition will be inspired to undertake such enquiries. I see the questioning of what is as an opportunity. It makes that which we take for granted negotiable, open to change.”
Connections to the West continue. Former Academy of Art University student Wen Yu extended an invitation to visit her beautiful hometown of Suzhou. Her mother coordinated an epic tour including a visit to architect I.M. Pei’s Suzhou Museum. He brilliantly merged together history of the city with a modern perspective. It was heaven on Earth.
Memories of the Shanghai Oil Painting & Sculpture Institute Museum opening, Huang Yongping’s large-scale installations, Fenando Botero’s paintings, studio visits, beautiful dinners, revisiting friends and making new ones dance throughout my mind. A year ago, this experience wasn’t even a possibility. Today and in the future, it is reality.
Marco Polo on his deathbed stated “I have not told half of what I saw.” It’s difficult to fully realize the gift of my trip. China continues to provide hospitality never experienced before. My hope is to return that generosity someday.
Thank you. Xièxiè.