It’s officially halfway through our last week and I’m feeling the super pressure to see anything and everything.  I had the most amazing night with Jennifer (my mentor) and her husband Geoffrey the night before last and barely slept after the whirlwind that was Monday.

After school we met up with the group at 3:30 PM to head to the Tiapei Fine Arts Museum.  On display was an amazing artist named Cai Guo Qiang, which I still cannot confidently pronounce but have the utmost appreciation for.  His art is astounding and the sheer size and breadth of his installations and 2-dimensional images is mind-boggling.  He does a lot of work with gunpowder where he and his team of helpers set off live gunpowder on paper before quickly putting out the smoke and flames to uncover images like I have never seen before.  What is unique about Qiang is that he does not hide his process from the viewer, he makes it a part of viewing his work.  Near each set of galleries or halls you can sit for a minute and watch a video detailing the lengthy process of bringing his visions to life.  Here is some of the work that we saw…

Full size models of wolves running in a pack and crashing into a glass barrier; you could walk all around them, under and over. This is a picture from the exhibition at the Guggenheim, but at Taipei Fine Arts they were arranged so that they were running back toward the original line to get back in formation and run towards the glass again.

Qiang's father was a traditional Japanese calligraphy artist and a piece of his about tigers was the inspiration behind his sculptures of 9 stuffed lions being attacked by arrows.

This piece is my favorite. I saw it online prior to visiting the museum and was totally blown away by the sheer size and the message within it. This ship was found on the coast buried in the sand and Qiang and his team spent days digging it out to turn into this installation. It is surrounded by thousands of pieces of white porcelain plates and deities broken into pieces.

An example of one of Qiang's works in gunpowder. They literally set them off in huge explosions before putting them out and analyzing the images. Each image is carefully planned as Qiang spreads the gunpowder around the paper, drawing shapes in the negative space. Fascinating!

Well, I have got to go back to class now.  Time to watch Mr. Badgley show the eighth grade artists how to print from their drypoint etchings.  I have so many things to blog about and will continue to work on it every spare minute to share all of these amazing things with you.  Next time I’ll tell you all about the Chiang Kaishek Memorial Hall (I took 105 pictures there…), Martyr’s Shrine (where my camera also got quite a workout) and some of the crazy restaurants I’ve been to in the last few days.

Until next time,

Lindsay

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It’s Sunday, January 17th, the first day of our last week here.  I really cannot believe it.  This week is going to rip by so fast and before I know it I will be back on EVA Air bound for Spokane.  After integrating into living here and spending so much time with my friends from the MIT program it will be yet another transition to adjust to full time teaching at Moran Prairie.  I am thankful to have the better part of a week to recover when I return and acclimate to the time change once again before taking over at Moran Prairie.  I miss my little kiddos so much and am excited to bring back pen pal letters for them from the third graders I’ve met here at TAS.

On Friday I sat down with Jennifer, my mentor in the art department, to plan my activities for the last week.  I am making two presentations to the two IB (International Baccalaureate) Art classes, interviewing as many IB students as I can fit into the day, visiting various art and third grade class sessions, and squeezing in as much sight seeing as possible after school.  Throw in some homework on top of that in the evenings and waking up at 5:00 AM each day and you’ve got a pretty accurate picture of my crazy existence here in my last week.

On Thursday my mentor only teaches three classes in the morning so the Director of the Art Department said that we can skip out of school when we’re done and go to the Palace Museum.  I cannot wait to explore it because it is said to have the largest collection of Ancient Chinese art in all of China.  Wow.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!


We are on the train returning from an exciting weekend in Hualien.  This trip has been one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.  The scenery reminded me of hiking on the Olympic Penninsula, but was about a thousand times more spacious and profound.

Hualien is a town about three hours from Taipei and while it is also a city the pace of life there is a little slower and it is close to Taroko National Park.  I wasn’t certain of the entire plan for this trip, but “embraced the ambiguity” and came prepared for anything.

Like Yingge, I thought that we were headed for a tiny village, especially since it is so close to Taroko, but that was not the case.  Our hotel, Azure, was beautiful with European-style comfy beds, but was situated on a street bordered by McDonald’s, KFC, and 7-11.  There were some little shopping streets that resembled the Shilin Night Market in Taipei, but they were mostly filled with racks and racks of clothes, shoes and handbags.

The beds alone made the hotel a highlight of the trip and I slept better than I have otherwise on this trip.  Although I was very excited to get out in the fresh air for some exercise and nature, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was a little uncertain of what I thought would be two full days of intense hiking.  It turned out that we arrived Friday and explored before going out to dinner, Saturday was our all-day hiking excursion in the gorge and we left early on Sunday.

Once we hit the trails on Saturday, I was thankful that we were able to explore at our own pace and given time to take a million photographs to document our experience.  Sorting through all of the photographs will be a job in itself.  In the words of Carolyn, “How will I ever choose a desktop background?”  Love it.

Here are some of the photos from our experiences this weekend… Once I get more from Carolyn and Courtney I may have more to share.  Enjoy!

🙂 Lindsay


Hello friends!  I had a delightful Sunday spent in wandering through the halls of an old elementary school that has been repurposed to be the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei or MOCAT for short.  The museum is fascinating and the art is out there but totally right up my alley.  Many of the pieces had me staring in silence for long periods of time and the huge art film exhibit had me sitting on pillows in front of flat screens, on stools in front of head-enveloping video monitor shells, and sitting on the steps in a stairwell staring up at huge video projections on the walls.  In other words, I was completely thrilled.  I wanted to share with you some of the amazing stuff there.  I took a million photos (really…!) and thank heaven I did because I have already been sharing the art with students in the art department as they work on their research and continue to develop their own budding ideas.

Here are some of the best…

Me standing in front of the balloon animal sculpture in front of the museum. A very nice Chinese man offered to take my picture and I happily accepted. The people here are seriously the nicest in the world.

This artist's work was fascinating. Lelya Borisenko, a Russian painter, uses visual trickery and pop culture images inticing you to consider the message behind her work.

This is one of a series of three sculptures with similar forms. They are made of bronze and painted in high gloss. This picture does not accurately portray how huge they were.

This series of sculptures depicted seven fetuses enclosed in acrylic boxes. Each was elaborately dressed in familiar costumes: Superman, Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, Bat Man, Spiderman and The Hulk. One was conspicuously nude except for a thick head of black hair and a tiny mustache. It was a likeness of an infant Hitler.

Just in case you don't believe me....a closeup of infant Hitler.

Overall it was a fantastic museum.  I wish I could share some of the amazing films with you.  Much of my time was spent wandering through the maze of art films and animations which ranged from the hilarious to the shocking.  I would highly recommend you visit MOCAT if you are even in Taipei for a fun and inspiring afternoon.

Zaijian,

Lindsay


Taipei Eye

11Jan10

The other day we went to a cultural event at a place called Taipei Eye.  It is a performing arts center dedicated to preserving and sharing the traditional Chinese performing arts, since in many places this has gone out of style in favor of more modern expressions of culture.  Here is a short video of two performers in a lion costume as they perform some acrobatic tricks.


These first three days at TAS have been a blur of art classes and brick hallways.  This school is truly a wonder.  I’ve never seen anything like it in the states, and I have a hard time believing  that many of the private schools in American are this diverse in curriculum and culture.

My host teacher Jennifer teaches Visual Art 1 for beginning art students and IB art for advanced students who are bound for elite art colleges in the US.  The school offers a wealth of class options ranging from ceramics, painting and drawing, and digital photography, as well as more collegiate offerings like AP art history and industrial design.  I was shocked by the sheer volume of courses available to these blossoming artists.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a tiny bit jealous of the amount of preparation seniors take with them to their colleges of choice.  And the amount of guidance they receive from everyone around them as they apply to the top universities.  The goal of most students is to find acceptance to America’s Ivy League schools.  As an American I find this somewhat flattering that they prize these schools above any others in the world.

Now for some funny found English…

That doesn't sound very appetizing...

Apparently you have to be rich to enjoy the new year.

You mean Chip?

Do you think girls enjoy this store?

Until next time…

Lindsay


The Jade Market

03Jan10

Today I am feeling super sick.  My voice has been getting progressively worse since I got here and the frog in my throat is far away from leaving it.  I feel okay other than the sinus pressure, scratchy throat, booming cough (sorry Carolyn!) and sounding like a muppet.  I’m trying to not let it stop me from having a great time this first weekend in Taiwan.

Yesterday we went to the Jade Market where we found endless tables set with the most beautiful jewelry and handmade wares from around the region.  We had fun figuring out how to ask people how much things cost, how to say, “Too expensive!” and figuring out how to barter by calculator.  The vendors put down the price they would like and you counter (on the calculator) with the price that you would like to pay.

We had lots of fun walking around and figuring out what to purchase.  There were so many tables it was impossible to see everything in the two hours we spent there, but we made a decent effort.  I ended up with a set of freshwater pearl earrings and a necklace, a gift for my in-laws and jade ring and a gift for my mother.  I looked for gifts for Matthew but nothing seemed quite cool enough.  The search continues.

Well, I’ve got to run.  It’s time to get ready for breakfast downstairs.  Today we have a free day and nothing planned.  If I have time later I will tell you about your exciting adventure to the McDonald’s.  Yes, I said McDonald’s.  I’ve learned my limits on handling large amounts of Asian cuisine in a 72 hour period.

🙂 Lindsay


Yesterday we visited the amazing Taipei 101 building.  It is the tallest building in the world for just four more days before they finish building the new tallest building in Dubai.  It is 803 meters tall and the view is mind-boggling.  We purchased tickets for 400 NT and waited in a long winding line until riding the super fast elevator to the top.  It’s one of the fastest elevators in the world and it gets you to the top in less than 60 seconds, guaranteed.  The elevator is pressurized like the cabin of an airplane and once it gets going the lights dim and lights sprint around the ceiling in the pattern of constellations and comets.  There is a little map of the building that shows where the elevator car is as it moves up through the floors to the top.

It’s amazing.  The top deck is huge and you can pick up a free audio tour that corresponds with 15 numbered pillars throughout.  Each pillar shares the story of that part of town.  We took the stairs to an even higher floor to step onto the outdoor deck to see the city through bars in the open air.  Courtney and I posed for a pic with the city in the background.  Peter took the pic, and swears he was trying to get the city in the background (LOL…)

Until next time,

Lindsay


Palace Hotel, just up the hill from our home at Chien Tan Youth Center.

The beautiful courtyard at Taipei American School.

City streets...I finally found a Starbucks!

City streets; I finally found a Starbucks.

Double decker bike racks. So cool.

Taipei 101 from the ground, with the Tiffany Christmas tree.

More to come,

🙂 Lindsay


My ticket to the New Year's Eve Party in Taipei.

(Continued from my last post) Once we got settled back in our room we had some free time to have a nap…finally!  Carolyn and I weren’t sure we could sleep even though we were exhausted.  We unpacked and did some organizing of our things before taking a little nap.  Just in case we fell asleep I set my alarm for 5pm because we were supposed to meet up with everyone to go out at the train station at 7pm.  Low and behold we got a great sleep…only to wake up at 6:45pm!  Had the alarm not gone off?  Was it stuck on Washington state time?  What?  Wake up!

Just as I was about to say, “I wonder if everyone’s left already…” we got a knock on the door.  When we opened it up, Kamian and Courtney were standing there all ready to go and we were deep in panic mode.  Luckily Carolyn had the wherewithal to say we would shower and get ready as planned and figure out another way to get there.  The only problem was we didn’t have a phone that worked in Taiwan (without horrendous roaming fees) and we had no idea how to talk to anyone (except to say hello and thank you) and we wouldn’t know where the group was going until they decided on a restaurant while walking around the area of the hotel.

We got ready in what we both consider record timing then hit the lobby to enlist the help of the front desk staff.  We tried a pay phone to call Peter’s cell (borrowed from local brother Erik) but we couldn’t read any of the instructions (all in Chinese characters).  Carolyn finally took one for the team and called Peter using her cell phone.  They told us the general location of where we were headed, a place called Asia World.  Peter’s sister-in-law Stacey told us to have the lady at the front desk write it down in Chinese characters so that we could give it to the taxi driver.  Carolyn asked, “How are we going to understand how much to give the taxi driver.  Will they have a running tab like in America?”  Then I said, “You’re way ahead of me…how are we going to get hail a taxi in the first place?”

A few wrong directions and some serious confusion later we were barreling through the streets of Taipei in a yellow taxi (Note to self: Don’t say cab to anyone…they only understand the word taxi) en route to what we were certain was a misunderstanding.  Just in time Stacey called and had the host at Outback Steakhouse (Yeah, I know…) tell the taxi driver where we were supposed to go.  They had some words, but eventually we made it there.

We ate dinner at Outback sitting up to the bar and enjoyed chicken and veggie pasta and a couple of drinks before going upstairs to the main event: a swanky party in a party room with several DJ rooms leading out to the huge terrace where we had a straight view of Taipei 101 (Taipei’s tallest building for just four more days).  The party was full of nomads from all over the globe.  We sipped Coronas and chatted up people from New Zealand, England and anyone else who spoke English.

There was noticeably no countdown leading up to the big moment, but once the clock struck midnight fireworks shot out of Taipei 101 in a massive explosion of color and light until it was finally emblazoned with the phrase “Taiwan UP!”  A few hours and an interesting cab ride later we made it back to the Youth Center and into our beds having spent an amazing first day in this city of adventure.  I can’t wait to see what comes next.