Chinese Hospitality: 2013 SHU/CAFA Residency, Part 1

By James Adelman (MFA 2014)

So there I was sitting on a suitcase… (A night on the town in Chicago + sleeping pills=coma. The time flew by…) Has anyone ever told you about Chinese hospitality? 'Cause they really should. Let me tell you a story.

Zoe Sua-Kay and Elizabeth Shupe with Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate,
aka "The Bean," in Chicago.

The Bean up close.

… And the next thing I know I’m in a coma on the 13 hour flight to Shanghai! 

Our guide, Wang Yi, picks us up at the airport and proceeds to accommodate our every request. I feel totally spoiled by how easy he is making this. 

He chauffeurs us to buy ridiculously inexpensive supplies in an art store (err um, art bunker?), shows us the town and gets us familiar with the lay of the beautiful-college-campus-in-Shanghai land. Our dorms have balconies and private bathrooms. Seriously.

The spectacular studio here is one of the nicest spaces I’ve ever worked in. Huge, clean, air conditioned, furnished, top story with windows. The student body is also exceptionally friendly and welcoming, and food options have been splendid -- although ordering is an adventure!

So that’s all pretty cool, but now listen to this… day two:

So a family friend and Chinese native, Mr. Huang, finds out I am turning 30 the day after we arrive (serendipitous, I know) and insists on throwing me and my peers a Chinese birthday/welcome celebration.

… And the next thing you know his driver picks us up and escorts us to downtown Shanghai, where he has reserved a private dining room for us, his family and a couple of his hip English speaking friends. SO MUCH FOOD. Delicious things. Crazy things. There were frogs and jellyfish and things I still cannot identify. Delicious tea and never ending wine. A giant glass lazy Suzanne spun like a perpetual motion machine bringing new delights with every pass. It seemed impolite to stop eating, so we didn’t. This went on for days I think (or perhaps China is a day ahead of our calendar). There is no way we will ever know for certain, but I am sure this is the warmest reception I have ever received.

Add all the above to three splendid peers whose company I’m reveling in and I am left to wonder: Is this real? And if so, how did I get so lucky?

Quickly, before I go… I would like to thank the Academy (never thought I’d say that!), Shanghai University, CAFA, Wang Yi and Professor Xu, the generous Huang family and their wonderful friends, Karen, Cecelia, and Edison… I just know I am forgetting someone! We are seriously all so grateful to be here right now.

Ganbei Academites! We miss you!

On May 25, four Academy students arrived in China to start a two-month residency in Shanghai and Beijing. James Adelman, Elliot Purse, Elizabeth Shupe and Zoe Sua-Kay (all members of the class of 2014) will share their experiences here throughout the summer. 

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