By Hayley Cohen, Staff Writer
A special exhibition in the Student Art League Gallery (SAL) showcased student work in a collection called “Hua Quan 2019,” from Tuesday, Feb. 25 to Sunday, March 9.
The works reflected the trip current students and alumni made to the Hua Quan Art Village in Nanchang, China. The artists were invited on the trip for a cultural exchange with the local village and high school in the Nanchang area.
Each artist created works based off of their time in Hua Quan and submitted it for the exhibition. There were over 30 pieces in the show that truly symbolize the personal experience of each artist and their time spent in Hua Quan.
“No two pieces in the show are alike, showing each individual artist’s style, as well as their unique experiences abroad. While on the trip, artists were invited to gallery openings and open studios of local artists, to truly experience art across the world,” Susan Kelly, exhibition coordinator, said. “During the trip, the artists collaborated with the local high school to create a mural that linked each individual. Here the only shared language came from a paintbrush.”
Lauren Bourguet, an MFA student graduating in spring 2020, said: “The gallery exhibition is about a trip we took to the Huan Quan art village last May. It was an artist retreat. We did many cultural activities during our stay, such as Kung Fu lessons from a Shaolin, yoga, learning the ancient art of Chinese paintings from a master painter using bamboo brushes, Chinese ink, rice paper, and the special methods in which to use them, calligraphy, and a tour of the Longhu Mountains, the famous birthplace of the Tao Religion.”
While abroad, student artists also had the opportunity to create oil and acrylic paintings, attend an art exhibit opening and tour a museum featuring 100 murals by international artists, including work by Seung Lee, professor of art. They also took a pottery class with local clay and worked alongside high schoolers to create murals for their school. The artists also got to experience Chinese culture by attending a traditional tea ceremony and learning how to make dumplings.
“I personally was very inspired by the Longhu Mountain. After arriving stateside, I immediately got to work on a large-scale oil painting,” Bourguet said.
“We all bonded over this trip by all being artists and giving back to the village community. Now we’re back here and get to show how this experience has impacted and influenced us in a positive way,” Emily Halper, an MFA student, said.
Jamie LaSota, an MFA student, displayed four paintings. “My inspiration was location, and I love painting about nature and all the places I’ve traveled. This experience was unbelievable. One painting is the first view that we woke up to every day,” she said.
Melinda DiGiovana, an MFA student, showed three photographs at the exhibition that she found inspirational.
“The whole experience was breathtaking. One picture was an incredible light show that we had experienced, that was insane. It felt like Disney World. It was one of the most beautiful moments for me,” she said.