May 31 - Four Academy students arrived in China to start an 11-week Artist in Residence Program in Shanghai and later Beijing. Cory Dixon (MFA 2013), Megan Ewert (MFA 2013), Kristy Gordon (MFA 2013), and Nicolas Sanchez (MFA 2013) will be sharing their experiences here throughout the summer.
June 10, 2012 - By Megan Ewert (MFA 2013)
|(L-R: Nicolas Sanchez, Kristy Gordon, Megan Ewert, Cory Dixon)|
New York Academy of Art has once again arrived in China! Landing in Shanghai Nico, Cory, Kristy, and I were excited to explore Shanghai despite some jet lag. An hour-long cab ride (220 Yuan = $34!) to the apartment placed us within 15 minutes walking distance of Shanghai University. The street we live on is always crowded with people, lots of food and shops. There is a local farmers market that puts out all kinds of fruits and vegetables everyday and a street fair of food and merchandise (i.e. anything from laptop stands to "blu ray" DVDs and clothing). There is a lot of traffic noise, cars tend to honk not to signal road rage but as more of a "hello, I'm right here, don't hit me". The streets are filled with bicyclists, rickshaws, three wheelers, and cars. If you walk up to the street, two or three wheelers immediately start calling out "Hello! HI!" to you. We are highly visible here in Shanghai. Everyone openly stares and is curious to our purpose here. Children are especially vocal. Parents often bring their toddlers up to us and try to get them to say "hi" to us. It seems our limited knowledge of Chinese--Nihao/hello and xie xie/thank you--is matched by their knowledge of English.
We have found several American comforts here in Shanghai. Our apartment is on the eighth floor with an elevator. We have not only a western toilet but air conditioning and a washer in unit as well. This apartment is instantly better than my New York apartment! Our apartment is centrally located in what I have dubbed the triumvirate of Americana: McDonalds, KFC, and Walmart. That's right. We are literally right across the street from a Chinese Walmart. Kristy was able to find a coffee shop she frequents with two friendly baristas. Unfortunately the coffee shop doesn't open till around 10am, but we suffer for the sake of our art! We also have bicycles to help us get around and with the weather being around 80-90F with humidity, so we indulge in cabs more than we would if in New York.
From the apartment, we literally walk down the street to enter the University campus, which is huge and beautifully landscaped--it doubles as a park where families and couples walk in the evenings. The facilities here are fantastic! The Fine Arts Building features gorgeous exhibition spaces and classrooms. We have one large studio to house the four of us and two students from Shanghai. We each have secured one large section of wall and a desk to use as a work station. Because the building is never officially shut down in the evenings, it is technically 24-hour access.
Our translator and NYAA alum ('10) Wang Yi takes us around on occasion and shows us lots of good places to eat, although the four of us tend to go out on our own and hit up some restaurants on the street. Cory is especially adept at body language and has earned the most resourceful of the week award for his drawing of him losing his credit card in an ATM and managing to get it back from the Bank of China purely through his artistic prowess.
So far most of our excursions out into the city have been to gather supplies and get our studios set up to work. We did take a trip to the Bund, which is Shanghai's Times Square equivalent. Lots of designer stores like Cartier, Zegna, Armani, and Zara lined the streets and billboards and lights lit up the streets. Taking in the view right by the river, we saw one of Shanghai's most famous examples of architecture, The Pearl.
A few days ago, Yi took us to the art supply store, which is literally like a Utrecht cramped in someone's five-room apartment in a gated apartment community. Apparently this is the warehouse for one of the most successful online art suppliers in Shanghai. Windsor Newton and a brand called Marie are common--and CHEAP! Each tube of Windsor Newton paint cost us 3-6 Yuan a piece (divide that by about 7 and that's the cost in dollars). All four of us practically bought the whole line of colors for about 200 Yuan which is actually only about $30 per person!!!. We have been amazed how far the dollar goes here in China ($1=6.5 rmb). We spent three hours there and got a ton of supplies including some absolutely beautiful brushes with hair ranging from squirrel to wolf. We also ordered custom pre-primed linen canvases that will be delivered to the University. I have yet to see one canvas at the University that is not linen!
Yesterday we took the metro downtown to Yi's father's studio, where our work was professionally photographed for the catalogue that will be created for our show in Shanghai featuring 10 artists including the four current residents from NYAA, Wang Yi, John Jacobsmeyer, Harvey Citron, Laura Frazure, Jeffrey Wong, and Ian Cao.
The pressure is on! We were informed that we have one week to create as much work as we can for the catalogue before it goes to printing and then we will have one more week to finish before our show on June 29th! We are buckling down and look forward to the show as well as our trip to Yellow Mountain and Hang Zhou later this month. We'll keep you posted!