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Lesson Plans

A Cultural Experience

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Thu, 11 Apr 1996 18:12:55 +0800 (HKT)

I wanted to dash this off to you as I thought it was an interesting experience
and of course before it became old and forgotten.
As it is Easter and in the teaching world in Hong Kong we get quite a few days
off I looked around for something valuable to do with my time. I could only find
one art workshop being held as every where else was also on holiday. The
workshop was held at the museum of art and taught by some one from main land
China in fact a young guy 30 to 40 ish from the Central Academy of Arts and
Design Beijing China who received a masters degree in sculpture from that
institute, he has also taught in Beijing although I think he now lives some
where outside mainland China, possibly Europe.
The sculpture class was called mixed media - I think your and mind
interpretation of what constitutes mixed media is very different from his, we
only worked in chicken wire, wood, hessian cloth, and plaster, with an emphasis
on developing an armature and covering this with wire and cloth soaked in
plaster, he deffined this mixed media. He explained that we could make what ever
form we like using these materials. Well I am not terribly experienced in
working in plaster and I am not overly keen on building armatures, so I sought a
different approach. I decided to simply explore the medium 'plaster' and combine
this with making some sequential images. My forms came from laying cloth down,
laying cloth over objects, getting impressions, filling plastic bags with
plaster and hanging them, an experimental approach with some constraints, with
in each sequence there was a relationship in that for example each piece of
cloth was the same size, if I covered the cloth in some areas with string each
piece of cloth was covered with the same number of pieces of string, in other
words relationships existed. A few days into the workshop we shared with the
class and our teacher what we were doing.
Most people treated the material in quite a traditional fashion, except three of
us. When it came to my work I received some interesting comments, one person
having the Jackson Pollock response that any one could do what I was doing, that
it was not art, the teacher said it was not 'from me' he went on that I was not
doing Fine Art but decorative work - Design, that I had made a number of units
such as a number of words but not a sentence ( that part I agree with but the
interpretation that my work was design strange). After class another student I
know quite well, he is Hong Kong Chinese and who is very well versed in Asian
ways and Western ways explained to me that the response the teacher gave me was
based upon his training from China where Design and Fine Art are incredibly
separate and that what constitutes Fine Art is quite different for those who
study in China as opposed to those who study in the West, in that that which is
decorative is design and design cannot be art. So you see even though I had made
certain choices decisions the work was not mine and it was not art.
It is very difficult for me to explain because I only understood all this in a
very simple manner and concepts simply do not translate well from one language
to another. I thought this was interesting because it is a real example of
cultural differences and I wonder if this is a subheading to multiculture? We
are concerned about our students having a multicultural experience but what
about our teachers?
Any way I wanted to put this down sorry not very well before I lost touch with
the experience. It truly was amazing I mean even the conversation I had with the
teacher seemed blocked by something that neither he nor I could get beyond we
did not have the back ground, tools of years of exposure to each others culture.
Of course my first reaction was one of pain but after my friend had taken a
great deal of time to try and explain why this occurred I feel much better.

  • Maybe reply: Numo Jaeger: "Re: A Cultural Experience"