Troy University’s Department of Art and Design will bring rural China to Troy in the new project “From 231 to Yangtze.”
The project, made possible by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, is a collaboration between TROY and New York City-based photographer Hai Zhang.
Zhang was born in Kunming, China, and has spent time travelling to places such as Southeast Alabama, Miami and Washington, D.C. for his work. He has followed the lives of different people along China’s Yangtze River, using his camera to document their culture.
Zhang began documenting the same thing in rural areas of America, including Troy, Alabama.
“What we’re interested in doing is a collaborative project where students are actually looking at his work and then going out and shooting, making comparisons and contrasts of people within our community,” said Edward Noriega, Professor of Art.
The exhibit will show comparisons between rural China and rural Alabama, and the nuances of both cultures.
Zhang will come to the University to conduct a masterclass that will consist of a presentation of his work and field assignments where students can have their photos critiqued.
“At the end of the workshop, we plan on having two shows,” Noriega said. “One [will be] at the International Arts Center inside of the gallery, and it [will] be his work showcased with students’ work.
“There will also be the same kind of exhibit on the outside of the IDEA Bank.”
The project will not only be a way for students to learn more about photography, but to be mentored by someone who finds beauty in every space.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Noriega said. “I think it’s going to be really interesting, and Mr. Zhang has a really great eye.
“He’s pretty well [respected] internationally and so it’s a real treat to be able to have him come down here and to be able to share his vision. He’s very much an artist that likes to bring art to the people as opposed to making people come to a gallery space.”
Zhang will also work with the students to produce a limited-edition photography book that will be handmade and printed, and available for purchase at the University.
The project will take place during the fall semester under a class called Collaborative Studio taught by art professor Greg Skaggs.