Snapshot Yangzhou: art students' retreat

As part of our "cultural education," we spent weekday afternoons on little excursions to museums, paper-making studios, calligraphy lessons, table tennis games, and tai chi sessions--to name a few. One of my favorites was our trek to one of the Yangzhou University art buildings, and this studio in particular. I got the impression it was shared by about a dozen students at once, and projects at every level of completion were laid on tables, hung on walls, or propped somewhere between. Art was a combination of contemporary images and portraiture, like the girl above, and traditional skilled Chinese landscapes and scenes, like the one in the background behind her, mounted on the wall. The art students were some of the most calming and friendly people I encountered; and I loved that they bashed the stereotype of the Asian science and mathematics student.

On this afternoon, we each paired up with an art student and learned some techniques in traditional Chinese painting--which involves much more methodical, patient strokes than anything I'd ever attempted. Accordingly, my buddy was extremely patient with me, and after several botched scenes, he backtracked and we began painting a bunch of grapes, something I was able to grasp more quickly than sweeping landscapes or trees or stallions. I proudly carried the rolled up paper containing my creations home with me, and brought them carry-on all the way home to the U.S., where I only recently rediscovered them and decided to display my grape bunch. My artistic friend also gave me one of his own paintings, which I also intend to finally mount and display in my home. His is a traditional scene, containing huge, large scale scenery, man nearly unrepresented in this homage to nature that is itself an homage to ancient Chinese art.