Monday, October 12, 2015

Another Art Adventure in China

This latest adventure began when I boarded a plane in Dallas, Texas the morning of September 25th on an approximately 25 hour journey to Quanzhou, China by way of Shanghai (with a 6 hour layover). Flights went smoothly and I was extremely grateful to be picked up from the airport and taken to my very comfortable hotel room for a good night's rest before the festival kicked off.

Below are a collection of photos from our hotel. From the restaurant on the 18th floor we could see that in the distance all around were small mountain ranges obscured by the multitude of high rise buildings making up the city of QuanZhou.  To the south east just a short distance away was the East China Sea, with Taiwan and the Pacific ocean beyond. The statue of horse and rider on top of the mountain in the distance was created in remembrance of Zheng Chenggong. He is considered a national hero and was a military leader during the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties.

During the festival the People's Republic of China was celebrating Golden Week. Children were out of school from October 1st -7th and people had vacation time from work to travel, visit family or simply enjoy vacation time. Because of this holiday season we saw thousands of children and their families coming and going at the very first 798 International Children Art Festival to be held in Quanzhou. There were special events every day at our location. In addition to the art activities, there was an art exhibition of local student work from elementary age through high school. China TV broadcast dancers, singers, and performers of all ages each night. It was certainly a lively and exciting thing to experience.

Our festival location was the Wanda Plaza. It was a huge indoor /outdoor shopping mall area, with hotel high rises, restaurants, a lake and so many things to see. I'm always impressed by the "random acts of artwork" (mostly in the form of large statues) that I've seen in China.

Our hosts graciously treated us to local cuisine....a wildly adventurous culinary surprise in every dish!
From the extremely "fresh from the water" seafood that could literally look back at you while you ate it, to the boiled chicken feet guaranteed to "keep you young" and "make your skin beautiful". 
I'm afraid I may just have to grow old as gracefully as I can and rely on some store bought skin products.....but I do appreciate the offer, thank you ever so kindly. 

What a treat to walk through the plaza's second floor and view the local children's artwork on display. Some of these kids are seriously talented! And it was wonderful to get to see many of their art teachers during the art auction and get to meet some of them in person. 
FYI: They auctioned off several of the student artworks and a selection of t-shirts made during my workshops one evening during a televised event. The coolest part about it was the fact that the proceeds went to a local organization for children with autism. One more of the many reasons I'm proud to be a part of the 798 International team of artists. 

I love working with these groups of kids....but it's also great to see how some of the parents get really into making designs on the t-shirts as they are "helping" their children. :)

so precious

 A local t-shirt company called Kading sponsored my workshop by donating all of the t-shirts we used. The super hero characters you see are part of their company brand/logo.

Artists in this photo: Tony (Ghana, Africa); Momo (Cameroon, Africa); our lovely boss Grace (Beijing, China); Kyle (Minnesota, USA); Josephus (Philippines) and me.

This time doing the tie dye t-shirts I decided to also add and teach some embellishment techniques. So we did the tie dye process using the permanent markers and isopropyl alcohol but then we turned the designs into other drawings or added things to them. The kids loved it and I thought it was pretty great too. If you click on this photo maybe you can see up close all of the little details that were added. One of my favorites is the maze of color wheels with tiny little stick people, oh and also the one big flower made from all different tie dye circles. 

I had so many photos it was hard to narrow it down to a collection that could be shared on this post. Photos of all of the children coloring their little masterpieces, our fantastic helpers and translators working right alongside us with the kids, photos of all of the sights and people and artists creating. I cannot begin to convey the intrinsic things that will stick with me most. The bonds of friendship, the laughter, the sounds and smells and atmosphere of the festival and the city. I will carry those things with me and hope you get a glimpse through my words and pictures. 

One day we got up early and our driver picked us up at the hotel and we headed out to the beach for a little fun in the sand and sun. It was not a swimming beach (more a fishing beach). But we still got our feet in the surf and had a blast goofing off.....the guys certainly did anyway. ;)

I picked up a few lovely seashells (thinking I would take them home to my girls) only to discover once I got back to my hotel room that they still had little living creatures in them, oops!


Wow, Grace! Way to tell those boys to back it up.

Gotta love doing a little trick photography.
* Although I must admit the best photos are on Momo's fancy phone. Mine did ok, but his could take 16 shots in the time I snapped ONE!!! Wow! Had a little phone envy there.

Awesome back bend Tony!

and you too Momo

You guys have fun with your hand stands, races and push up contests.....

I'll just stand over here and take a selfie, ha ha.

Another day our driver took us all to explore the "old town". A section of somewhat preserved historic homes with walls entirely constructed with oyster shells and curved tile roofs covered in little flourishing succulent plants. The area was a maze of tiny roads and alleyways. As we navigated through we encountered wedding celebrations taking place, children playing in the streets, men chopping up raw meat on their mobile carts, women cleaning oysters, and people simply going about their daily routines. Notice the flowers the women have adorned their hair with for the Golden Week holiday. 

A seriously fun group of artists to hang out with for two weeks.
(Josephus, me, Momo, Grace, Quinton, and Tony)

With Quinton and Josephus heading up a visual playground of cardboard boxes turned into all sorts of little houses, jungle animals, trees, mazes and more......and Momo and Tony teaching traditional African dances, painting tribal patterns on kids faces and arms and letting them make grass skirts and colorful head and arm bands while playing, it was a virtual wonderland of creative expression!

By the way, did I mention yet how fantastic and wonderful my helpers were? 
Because they totally rocked! 
Love these girls and wish them all the best in their studies at university!

Did you notice the dog sitting at the cafe with his owner? Pretty cool. 
And how about all the motor scooters along the street. Yes, it was this crowded everywhere.
The shoes...they were a gift from my girls! Kinda like Converse, but the Chinese brand Warriors. LOVE!!!

One of the moms and her little girl took me and my translator, Lisa out to a special dinner one night. It was fantastic. We had so much fun. Then the last night she and her daughter brought us a bag of gifts and gave me a lovely bouquet of flowers. Aww, melt my heart. Such kindness. I'm hoping to keep in touch with these new friends. What a blessing. 
And I hope to work with this great group of artists again someday too. 

P.S. Momo, and Quinton....thanks for the gift that shocked my socks off and got me locked out of my hotel room.....ha, ha! You guys are the best. 

Now, for the return flight home. 798 ICAF and Quanzhou, it has been incredible. Thank you!

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