lack Hills State University students made history last month as the first Americans to study at Baoding University in Hebei, China. The students visited China for three weeks as the capstone to their “Drawing in China” course offered by BHSU.
While in China, the BHSU students participated in three hours of Chinese drawing each morning followed by two hours of a cultural activity in the afternoon.
Desy Schoenewies, assistant professor of art at BHSU, served as the faculty lead for the course and accompanied the students to China.
“We were so fortunate to have been exposed to many great works of art and architecture while in China. We will always be grateful for the opportunity to immerse ourselves into Chinese art and culture for three wonderful weeks,” said Schoenewies.
Students focused on learning to paint the lotus flower and leaves using black ink, rice paper, and the traditional bamboo brush. Schoenewies noted that these materials are very different than the methods of western arts. The students learned Chinese calligraphy, paper cutting, and participated in martial arts, language, and cultural classes.
“Watching the process of art making in person is almost magical. The aesthetic culture of China is traditional and ancient, requiring years of practice to master the techniques,” said Schoenewies.
Each BHSU student created paintings around the theme Impressions of China
. An exhibition was held at the end of the course where students shared their art along with artist statements. Ten works from BHSU students and Schoenewies remain at Baoding University for their permanent collection and several pieces will also be on display this fall in the President’s Gallery in Woodburn Hall at BHSU.
During the program, the BHSU students had the opportunity to visit important cultural sites. Excursions included: the Lotus Pond, Beijing including Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, The Great Wall, and The Summer Palace; and Chenshi Ding Porcelain Company where the students carved their own porcelain plates in unfired clay.
Many students in the BHSU group are aspiring art educators. A visit to Baoding Qianweilu Primary School offered the opportunity to tour a local elementary school. The BHSU students participated in the fifth grade class in creating Chinese Opera masks and in a class of “sand painting” where students drew dragons into the sand, exposed by a light box under the sand layer.
In addition to exploring Chinese markets and campus life at Baoding, the students were invited to make dumplings with Professor Hu, President of Baoding University, and enjoyed a formal dinner with the President and administrative personnel.
“We were making history as the first Americans to study at Baoding University. What really completed my journey to China was the people. The Chinese people have been so polite, kind, and ever willing to help educate my students and I on Chinese life,” said Schoenewies.
BHSU students in the “Drawing in China” course included:
Carissa Bellew, graphic design/communications major from Rapid City
Sequoyah Chavez, studio art major from Spearfish
Tiffany Concha, graphic design/communications major from Sturgis
Jonathan Deuter, graphic design/communications and art major from Rapid City
Nicholas Gainey, art education major from Spearfish
Breanna McMahon, art education major from Spearfish
Ji Yoon Park, English language and literature major from South Korea
Therese Wilhelmi, studio art major from Black Hawk