In the Summer of 2019 I traveled to China with a group of students from the University of Houston, through the UH Sculpture department's Art China study abroad experience.
The program began in Beijing, where we immersed ourselves in past and present Chinese culture with visits to the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, and contemporary art galleries like the 798 Art Zone and Today Art Museum.
After a week in Beijing, we boarded a train to Tianjin. Our destination was the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts (TAFA), where we would stay in dormitories for a week.
During our time at TAFA, our group teamed up with third and fourth year sculpture students to produce a work to display at the end of our week long stay.
One of my group members specialized in sculpture using reclaimed materials, sourced from local demolition areas. He brought me to one of the sites to collect materials.
A seemingly endless field of rubble swathed in green tarp, the demolition area had an otherworldly atmosphere. With the help of a local junk picker, we were able to find pieces of rebar and concrete, discarded furniture, and old wooden window frames.
Our materials back in the studio, we played around with different arrangements. Using translation apps to communicate, we debated whether we should bend the rebar into a shape, weld on other pieces, or just leave it as we found it.
For our final piece, we arranged the pieces into one line, gently curving across TAFA's rotunda. The rubble line leaps through windows and pieces of furniture in suspended motion. The rebar sprouts grow hammered metal leaves, nature returning in the wake of destruction.