A visitor from the National Day School

During art class today, we had a visiting art teacher from the National Day School, 北京十一学校, in Beijing. The National Day School is a respected bilingual school in Beijing, and although it is not technically an international school, it has both local Chinese students and international students from abroad. 

The visiting art teacher is going to be visiting ISB for the entire week this week, so I am looking forward to talking to her and asking her about her experiences teaching art. It would be interesting to hear about the differences she has noticed between the ways art is taught in Chinese schools and International schools like my school. 

Today, she seemed fascinated by how we have the freedom to explore what we want to create through our projects and sketchbooks. I was really interested in how she teaches the students at the National Day School, so I decided to show her my sketchbook and ask her about some things she's noticed being at ISB.

"When I teach the class, I just tell the class what the assignment is, and when I receive the works from all my students, they often look very similar- almost identical to each other," she said. "Oh, so do you give your students examples of what the work should look like?" "Yes, and often times, the works that I get back look very similar to my work that I showed them."

Walking around to each IB students' desks around the art room, she was seemed so impressed and even inspired by our studio works! She was taking notes on her notebook and taking pictures with her Ipad, saying how she should consider giving more freedom to her students in art class. 

What was the most interested was, though, that she was also saying how "too much freedom can be dangerous for art students," that students need some guidance or limits to what they can do in order to be successful. I think this is an intriguing and a very "Chinese" idea. Personally and ideally, I think art should be something that everyone should freely be able to create and express themselves through. But I know that especially in China, sometimes freedom can be "too much," too much that it would give a wrong kind of message to the government.

Maybe what she meant by freedom being dangerous was that students need to learn about the techniques and have certain limits to what they can do, in order to be truly creative. In art class, If the students are given certain materials to create something out of, or a topic they have to follow, they are motivated to produce something that is extraordinary and creative. Introductory art teaches the students the very basic skills first, so it would build the foundation on which the aspiring artists can build later on in life. 

Either way- I think she gives me a perspective on arts education that I can't gain being in ISB. If have the opportunity to, I want to maybe interview her and talk to her more- It's a great chance for me to practice my Chinese, as well. 

The Los Angeles Project

So I visited the Los Angeles exhibition last week, but I hadn't written a blog post about it because I was too busy freaking out for the SAT's last week. Finally, I found both time and the stable internet connection to start writing again, so here are some of the pictures of the works fro two LA artists, Alex Israel and Kathryn Andrews. I will be posting the articles on the other artists in seperate blog posts, so I won't risk losing my work to the unstable and unreliable internet/VPN here. 

The way Kathryn Andrews had arranged her works was very funky. There were two legs spanning each side of the walls, and between the legs sat a big rectangular sign that read: The Cerficate of Authenticity. When the viewers entered the space from the correct side of the exhibition space, they were facing and looking at this Certificate of Authenticity sitting in between a woman's legs in transparent tights. Seductive. In the image on the walls, there was also a guy in distance who is gazing at the legs. This scene actually reminded me of a scene from a movie, but I can't remember what movie it is. I'm pretty sure this image was appropriated from that scene. Although most images in her exhibition seemed to be appropriated, the saturated and distorted colors made the works look original and unfamiliar. 

The Certificate of Authenticity one made me laugh; I wonder if the creators of Mission Impossible actually asked the artist to lend them a black shirt for Tom Cruise, or if it's just a mockery. 

From looking at ndrews' artist book before visiting the exhibition, I had expected her works to be more about realism and the city life because her book was filled with pictures of pedestrians in Hollywood and other touristy places around LA. This makes me realize that artist books are not compilations of artist's works but more like those of artist's inspirations and thoughts turned into the form of a book. 


Alex Israel's works are like modern murals. He painted directly on the walls objects that represent LA, like the academy award to the palm trees. All of the images are somewhat disconnected from each other, so the symbols looked kind of like stickers. Unlike Kathryn Andrews' art, Alex Israel's is reminiscent of his artist's book, which is in the form of a sticker book.

I have to go to class... So more to come! 

The LA Project: Kathryn Andrews and Kaari Upson's artist books

Different artists, different artist books-

Here are some of the pages from the artist books of the LA show I have been looking at. I would say that artist books are more like scrapbooks of inspiration than an artwork by itself, because many artists incorporate things personal in the artist book and the flow of the book is not necessarily comprehensible to everyone. I think it's more about how the parts of the artists' ideas and inspirations flow logically in the book to themselves than how well the audience understands the artists' ideas. 

In that way, it's quite similar to how I use the IB Arts website, sort of like a wikispace that all IB Arts classes at my school use to share works, where I can see the connection between each of my artworks in the slideshow of my work.

Sometime before IB comes to an end, I want to try making my own artist book, to bring to college.

Paul McCarthy

I read an interesting article about how the provocative installation and performance artist, Paul McCartchy installed a very sexually explicit monumental sculpture in the middle of Paris' Place Vendome, home to the French justice ministry. 

Here's the picture of the euphemistically-titled, "tree." 

After the inflatable sculpture was installed, the artist received backlash from the conservative citizens of Paris, who thought that the installation of the work was a humiliation to Paris. Eventually, after a week, the sculpture was vandalized and destroyed by two attackers, and McCarthy made the decision not to recreate the work to avoid even more extreme conflicts. 

This was so interesting to read because I remember so vividly researching about Paul McCarthy for the Los Angeles project, the current exhibition at UCCA, during my internship at the museum last Summer and being shocked by how "sexually-connotated" his installations are. 

His works make strong political and cultural statements through the use of shock value- but I wonder what it would be like if something like this was to be built in my neighborhood. Sure, it is art, and it is freedom of expression, but I don't know if installation is the most appropriate way to make a statement, considering how disturbing McCarthy's work can be.

There are some distinct characteristics that define art of artists from LA: The use of vivid or pastel colours, use of mixed media, commentary on popular culture and/or the internet age... I'm guessing it has a lot to do with the prevalence of the entertainment industry in LA... or maybe just the sunny weather, who knows.