#WECANALLDRAW III with Ms. Chen

I am excited to be hosting the first curated full scale #wecanalldraw exhibition featuring crayon and watercolour drawings by children artists in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The exhibition will be on from September 5 to 26, 2015 in &TUR (2F of Innocent Coffee). Please see &TUR archive for exhibition record. Here is a little back story of this exhibition and the person that inspires me to started this curatorial series.

I have known Ms. Chen since I was 3. Back then she has just graduated from art school, and she has aspirations to be an influential studio artist and an art teacher. When not working on her paintings, Ms. Chen opens her studio for children to take classes with her. Interestingly, her method of teaching is not to teach: she believes in the innate creativity in children and usually spends time to converse with them to draw out their creative energy. There are many art classes that taught students to draw the same thing, to imitate masters’ works as ways to develop drawing techniques. It is very common to walk into an art classroom to see almost identical drawings and paintings by a class of 30-50 students. On the contrary, Ms. Chen encourages her students to observe their surroundings, to discover what they like and to use crayons and watercolours to record what they see and feel. Therefore, the diversity of works is the first thing you would notice when you step into Ms. Chen’s classroom. She trains her students to see and not be afraid to express their observation and perception. She is very generous and genuine about her compliments. She is extremely influential to me in my creative practice and in setting up &TUR and the #wecanalldraw series.
I visited her in her studio in May 2015. We chatted about our current practices and the direction &TUR is taking. I shared with her about the #wecanalldraw series and invited her and her students to put together a group show in &TUR. The kids were so excited that they get to exhibit their works oversea and were all so eager to submit their drawings. There were over 20 students submitting more than 40 pieces. I wanted to take all of them back with me but could not because of luggage limitation. In the end, I picked 15 pieces to show in September 2015. As I looked through each drawing, Ms. Chen would tell me a little bit about each young artist. I was surprised to find out that many of them—even though they are under the age of 12— have severe learning disability and some even suffer from mental illness. Coming to Ms. Chen’s classroom to draw not only cultivates their interest in artistic expression but also helps them in working through their disabilities and struggles. Their drawings tell genuine and expressive stories of the artists who made them. I am honoured that these children agree to contribute to the first full scale #wecanalldraw series.

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