Project: Dalian, China-Oakland's Sister City 1994
Dimensions: 4' x 12'
Medium: Acrylics on Canvas
Location: On display in various locations
"The Renaissance of Papermaking", the non-profit arts group which I was involved with, had grown more quickly than expected since its genesis, due mostly to the skillful fundraising efforts of our Executive Director, Lana Rose.
During our first few years, the novelty of a paper making program in the Oakland schools was a fresh idea to the large number of foundations and grants makers we applied to. The successful outreach of our school program around Oakland, accomplished with the help of close to a hundred volunteers and a few paid staffers, was exhilarating and affirming.
We had dreams of taking our program overseas again, to share our Western paper methods with Oakland's sister city, Dalian, China. Through Lana's Herculean efforts, we were able to make our dream a reality.
The Tiananmen Square protest of 1989 and its consequences were still fresh in our minds. We had planned a larger trip that included Beijing and Xian as well. We were aware that China and Japan would be vastly different experiences, and yet we weren't sure what to expect. The ceremony in which we presented the mural to the Mayor of Dalian was a very emotional experience, and we were left with the feeling that he had really appreciated the artwork, and the care and time it had taken to create the painting. They seemed to be in disbelief that we were just giving them the mural. Unfortunately, I didn't have the resources at the time to properly document either the ceremony or the canvas itself, so I only have a few snapshots to remember it by. We were told it would go on public display but I never found out where that was and still don’t know.
Like the mural I brought to Japan I chose to paint the paper making process as well as some of the children from our schools program. Downtown Oakland with the Tribune building on one side and downtown Dalian on the other side. Lana can be seen teaching in the lower left hand corner.
Overall, the trip was a mind-blowing experience, and the project served to boost our non-profit’s profile as well as Oakland’s reputation as an innovator in the arts.