Last summer, Associate Design Professor Chris Stagl took his first teaching abroad trip to the Changzhou Institute of Technology in Changzhou, China. Six months later, 30 of the thousands of photos he captured during his visit are on display in China in a solo exhibit titled, “Facades: Changzhou.”
The relationship was established by Art and Design Department Chair Greg Skaggs in 2019 on a visit to Changzhou. Stagl said this trip was like the metaphorical passing of the baton as Skaggs accompanied him to make a proper introduction.
“Greg Skaggs was the driving force that got me to believe in the power of international education, and this show exemplifies how much I have bought in to that mindset,” he said.
In 2020, Stagl filled the vacant position of Director of the International Center of Collaboration and Creativity in Art & Design, though he said he never felt fully engaged with international education due to the travel restrictions caused by COVID.
“I would hold online seminars for international students, including the University of Zaragoza in Spain and CIT as well, but until now I had never been afforded the opportunity to travel abroad and teach students,” he said. “It was an amazing experience and I highly encourage everyone to consider their own options when it comes to teaching abroad. I recently presented about this same topic during the College of Education’s Annual Research Conference.”
While in China, Skaggs and Stagl taught art and design to 22 Chinese students, and 16 of those students will soon be coming to Troy University in the Spring of 2024. Skaggs taught the students how to make sculpture art with tactile found objects, and Stagl taught video production and editing.
“Traveling to China with Chris was a trip I will not soon forget,” Skaggs said. “The two of us had an incredible journey and integrated very well with the community, students and faculty at Changzhou. Chris’ photos tell a wonderful story of their new, expansive campus and the local community business owners and patrons. I’m happy he’ll be having his first international show in Changzhou.”
Stagl also paid special thanks to Xiaojuan “Silvia” Li, Director of Chinese Operations.
“This trip would not have been possible without her,” he said. “She is truly the key that unlocks and connects our two countries for international education.”
Li added, “Chris plays such an important role in our collaboration with Changzhou Institute of Technology, both for our partnership and for our mutual students. This exhibit will greatly motivate the students to join this exchange program and deepen our partnership with CIT in the years to come.”
The exhibit opened on Christmas Day in the exhibition hall on the first floor of CIT’s School of Art and Design and will be on display through March 2024. The photos feature the CIT campus expansion, the business owners and community members of Changzhou.
“Warm congratulations to Professor Stagl for hosting a photography exhibition at our school,” said Peng Wei, CIT School of Art and Design Vice President. “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to re-examine our city and campus and discover new perspectives and scenery that we have never noticed before. My colleagues and students, as well as myself, really enjoy these stunning works.”