Back to Business: China Residency, Part 5

By James Adelman (MFA 2014)

So after our action-packed, inspiring, uplifting, perspective-shifting excursion, it’s back to Shanghai and back down to business. We arrived back with six days until opening night and began the final push toward resolution. Of course, being Academy students, we live for this sort of scramble and handle it all with level heads. 

The beginning of the week was all buckling down, morning-to-night studio time with regimented food breaks. I found this such a welcome window of reflection after our journey. With plenty to look back on and internalize, time to myself and focusing on work was just what the doctor ordered.  

The final countdown
Thursday was installation day, and we feel ready when it arrives. Our work was joined by works from Masters and PhD candidates from the University of Shanghai. It was great to see the other artists' work come in during the day and meet artists who are in similar stages of their careers but rooted in a very different geography. The show moved through several arrangements but then pulled together…  

Installation time

When it’s all over, a brief well-deserved snooze… and a good meal!

Friday afternoon was the opening. We enjoyed a good crowd and a warm reception filled with interest, conversation and positive feedback. We see lots of new and familiar faces, including faculty, students, artists, and a lot of the friends we’ve made along the way.

Opening night

After the reception, we joined the participating artists and faculty for a tea ceremony and long conversation, followed by dinner and continued conversation. We talked about art, of course, and the issues facing artists in China and New York, comparing and contrasting our cities and experiences. It was a very lively conversation facilitated by three translators. 

I was taken off guard by the very sincere level of interest and curiosity the group had as they asked us many questions about our lives and backgrounds. Of course the pendulum swings both ways as we returned questions, trying to color in our impressions of life as in artist in Shanghai. I can’t recount the entire four hours and am equally incapable of doing it justice. What stuck with me was how similar the concerns were: Balancing making a living with studio time during periods when the two are not synonymous, finding an adequate space to live and work without compromising safety, the importance of peers and how to find them, strategies to keep going. 

I have arrived in a place that at first glance seemed so different and the more time I am here the more astonished I am at the similarity, particularly that of human emotion and experience. It is both comforting and humbling. 

Tea ceremony with friends, faculty, and fellow artists
On Friday evening, Wang Yi recommended that we spend some time at the spa (we earned it, right?). Here they are open until very late on the weekends so we set out at 9pm for bath houses, saunas and massages. As familiar as some things here, this experience stood out as different than anything I have EVER experienced before. There are several (5 I think?) floors of spa activity. At first it took some adjusting to come around to the concept of actively relaxing. I kept looking for what I was supposed to be doing. But that was it: just relaxing, a foreign concept to us. We soaked it up for a few hours and called it a night. No pictures aloud here, folks, on account of the no clothing rules and all …

So Saturday, (it is hard to believe everything that happened on Friday was still one day, but I am getting used to that feeling here), we went downtown to round out our experience with a taste of the famous Shanghai nightlife. And when you think Shanghai nightlife, of course you only think of one thing… John Jacobsmeyer. No really, he is here and joined us for some early fun at the famous Bar Rouge, overlooking the Bund. It has to be the most posh place I've ever been granted entry. An exciting and relaxing end to another action-packed week here in Shanghai.  

Goodbye New York Academy of Art, wherever you are…

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.

1 comment:

  1. It is good to see all the guys to work in their artistic fields after enjoying many enjoyable events with friends, thanks for sharing the lovely moments
    Joseph Levinson China