Arriving without a plan or much in the way of materials I looked to my environment for inspiration.
1. Absorbing China as a first time visitor provided me with an astounding amount of information.
2. The grounds of Da Wang were a minefield of found objects.
3. I inherited Mao propaganda magazines from Gideon Rubin, a painter who inhabited my space before I arrived.
4. In Dafen I became smitten with the elegant craftsmanship of the traditional embroidery, particularly their strict adherence to color, material and subject.
5. Steve Johnson's book Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software.
I'm still processing words to describe what I was thinking, but to put it simply, it had to do with how emergent behaviors develop organically over time from the bottom up and Chinese culture seems to be a product of top down control. According to Johnson top down approaches aren't sustainable, and yet the chaos in China seems to eventually result in an order of one dimension or another. In the swarms of people there, and the absence of the concept of an individual, everyone seems to share two concerns. First, to work towards the betterment of society's common goals. Second, to wrestle your way to the front of the line. China is full of contradictions like this, a very real human condition.
Read here about my first days in the studio, my rubbings, the magazines and initial steps with embroidery.
|The window rubbings on handmade chinese paper, layered and then torn away to reveal 'happy' imagery from|
Mao's heyday in the 1960's.
|A local Chinese worker taking in the embroideries at our 'November Works' exhibition at Da Wang.|
This post is part of a series documenting my experiences in China.
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