© Aimee R. Keil
For the first month of my summer I was part of a study abroad group that was able to take a trip to China. As part of the trip we were offered school credit, but in order to receive the credit, we had to create an art piece and have it shown in the school gallery. Upon returning myself and the eight others I traveled with, decided that we wanted our show to be a bigger deal than what has happened with MIAD travel abroad students in the past, but because of this we had to plan and organize everything on our own with little help from the school. Finding a place to show our work was the first step, and it was easy we found a space we could use absolutely no cost, the only catch was we were not allowed to alter the space in any way, meaning no holes in the ceiling, the walls, the floor, we had to leave it exactly how we found it. This was tricky, however we ended up pulling it off, and it was well worth it. On gallery night I was quite nervous. I had, had my work show before, but never in this type of setting. Lucky for us we had a great turn out of people, and all the work we put into the show was worth it. It was somewhat amusing seeing others interact with my piece, many were even having portraits of themselves taken in front of it. Since my piece was a reaction to what I had seen in China, I found that many people had a hard time understanding it. The one thing that made my night however, was a native Chinese man who had come to see the show. He was shocked to see anything like this here in America, and he told me that it was like being home, I had captured it well, and he loved the statement I was making.
They Might Be, They Are…Imagination Giants
Everyone knows that if you dig a deep enough hole in your backyard you end up in China. So I wasn’t too surprised, once upon a time not long ago, to be with MIAD’s bestest and brightest in a mad minivan dash to a Shaolin mountaintop, acapellaing ‘Children’s Story’ as our crazed driver raced into the oncoming lane, with the 8 of us packed in among army blankets like so much hay.
As America is going through Kennedy withdrawal, it seems a fitting time to bring up John John’s oft-cited quote, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters-one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” One wonders what Kennedy thought about the Cuban definition of crisis, but the Chinese construction of crisis, as Kennedy interpreted it, also applies to living, traveling and making art.
The creative process is fraught with danger and opportunity, a journey more dimensional than a simple trek from one spot to the next. While our lives rarely fall into neat segments, artworks must reach a final form — something even great artists struggle with. “The more one works on a picture, the more impossible it becomes to finish it,” said Giacometti. Turner would sneak into the Tate to touch up his paintings.
To avoid becoming as morose as Giacometti, or in a feud with John Constable like Turner, it helps to remember that the journey is the destination. That’s what artist and photojournalist Dan Eldon maintained until he was stoned to death in Mogadishu. Long after one returns home, the sites and sounds keep marinating in our thoughts. The experience of travel is not confined by borders and dates; the journey of the artist doesn’t dead-end in a single work. These works represent one stop along the way; the adventure is far from over. Imagination giants have long legs. Their strides are great, the ground they can cover is boundless.