Her Hair Must be Fake AND The Shanghai Biennale

Educating the Masses on black hair

Educating the Masses on black hairThe grand opening of the Shanghai Biennial is fast approaching. The main curator organizing this massage production is also the main adviser for my masters degree program at China Academy of Art, Professor Qiu Zhijie  (邱志杰). The biennial will be in the brand new museum for modern art in Shanghai, the first exhibition held in this space. The existing factory space has been renovated and the new work is currently being installed.

The biennial’s framework has also been expanded this year for the first time to include several project outside the museum space, such as, the City Pavilion project and the Zhongshan Park project. In professor Qiu’s opinion, representing one’s city in this exhibition carries even more significance than representing one’s country and yet doesn’t present as strong of a political statement.

There will be about 28 cities represented, and I will be helping to build the Pittsburgh pavilion. Tomorrow the heavy work begins. I’ll update you on the progress.

The Shanghai Biennial is the reason I am away from home and free to write this blog post, but weather in Shanghai or Hangzhou, my experience walking on the street in China remains a constant challenge. Today as I stopped to buy a snack from a man selling wraps on the street, I lamented the fact that everyone constantly comments on my hair. The problem is the inevitable question and often belligerent and incorrect answer: “Is her hair real or fake?” “Of course it’s fake! It must be fake!”

It really maddens me that everyone believes my hair is fake. So much so that the question is rebuffed as a stupid one. And then there are the constant giggles and comments about my skin color. Women in China go to extreme lengths to prevent their skin from getting tanned. They prefer pearly white skin as a status symbol.

One of my friends in the art program, a tall and handsome white  man from France pointed out that the issues of hair and skin are prevalent also in the black community. He says he always has to deal with people commenting on how tall he is. I don’t think he gets it. I guess I’ll have to take him out for a 30 minute walk one day. When people see two of us walking together as a couple, I’m sure he’ll begin to understand the depth of the problem.

I of course talk with tons of people everyday about where I am from and let them touch my hair. Today a woman in the restaurant where I ate dinner counted out my dreads. Apparently I have 220 dread locks. That was a fun interaction. On the 15 minute walk home I told myself that I should just focus on things like this and ignore everything else. It worked for about 5 minutes. A few people passed and stared, the usual question rang out. Ok, I can handle it. Then a couple passed by. The guy said, “Oh a black women.” After a few seconds they started to laugh loudly. I just can’t understand why that was so f—ing funny.

 

Happy 5th Year Anniversary!

Paul Family Portrait
The Shuren College Crew
Paul Family Portrait
Paul Family Portrait
Mayehu Makes Friends
Mayehu Makes Friends
Male Bonding
Paul Family Portrait
Paul Family Portrait

 

I am so proud to be a part of this family! Five years of marriage but we are still going strong. There have been some ups and downs but Lester’s drive and determination is my inspiration. I honor and respect his hard work and devotion to our son. Lester, you are the best thing that has ever happened in my live, right after giving birth to you son. Alemayehu, everyday we watch you learn, laugh and grow. Keep on striving for the best. It is a Paul family tradition!

Design

Click here to view design work done for the Parks Department in New York City to promote events and initiatives taking place all over the city.

Dates: 1998 – 2012 | Sizes: Various | Current rate of Services: 30 US per hr.

 

 

Drawing Experiments

Click here to view some charcoal and pencil drawings as well as some experiments with fabric collage, batik, and video stills.

Dates: 1998 – 2002 | Media: Mixed | Sizes: Various | Prices: Contact Glenis Paul

 

 

Sculpture

Pottery

 

Click here to see a selection of sculpture.

Dates: 1992 – 2002 | Media: 5 Pottery pieces + 1 bronze piece | Prices: Contact Glenis Paul

 

 

 

 

Curated Shows

Summer Solstice
Summer Solstice
Summer Solstice
Summer Solstice
Summer Solstice
Art on Dean
Art on Dean
Art on Dean
Summer Solstice
Shades of Light and Dark
Shades of Light and Dark
Shades of Light and Dark
Shades of Light and Dark
Shades of Light and Dark

 

ADVENTURES IN THE ARTS

From the summer of 2006 and throughout the summer of 2007 the Adventures in the Arts series brought artists from all disciplines into community gardens around New York City. By spotlighting artists in these spaces, the program performed the dual roll of highlighting garden spaces and showcasing artists and their work. I was responsible for creating, producing, organizing and curating this program, with the support and resources from GreenThumb, which is the largest community gardening program in the United States.

Of the 8 shows produced since the kickoff date:

Kickoff Event – September 2006
Harvest Fair – September 2006
Holiday Film Screening – January 2007
GreenThumb GrowTogether March 2007
Shades of Light and Dark – April 2007
Summer Solstice Arts Festival – June 2007
Beats that Bind Us – August 2007
Art on Dean – August 2007

the three best shows are highlighted in this portfolio.

Shades of Light and Dark

In the month of April, 2007, the La Plaza Cultural Garden in the East Village of NYC hosted Shades of Light and Dark, an art exhibition. The 6 artists pictured here came together to transform the garden with their work.

The garden was also the last stop on a walking garden tour, a part of the National Gardening Month activities, sponsored every year by the New York City Department of Parks.

The Shades of Light and Dark art exhibition featured a diverse group of artists. Mr. Chi Chui Lee created a piece made from a desk salvaged from the street minutes away from the exhibition. The work spoke very softly in its location under the garden gazebo, and referred to his humble beginnings in Hong Kong, were he lived before emigrating to the States.

Throughout the garden, Alexandra Zevin hung her sugar eggs, molded from raw sugar. During the day, the eggs shone a crisp white in the garden, and at night they lit up the space with a warm luminescent glow. Other artist contributions included African art sculptures, a video piece inspired by the eggs, and an interactive installation made of cement slabs with grass cutouts.

The show opened on April 28th, 2007.

 

Summer Solstice Arts Festival

On June 21st, the longest day of the year, the West 132nd St. Garden in Harlem NY hosted the first Summer Solstice Arts Festival. The annual Summer Solstice organized every year by GreenThumb was recreated under my vision and direction. We created an Arts Festival, with over 26 artists of ranging disciplines, an educational workshop about container gardening, food, live entertainment and fun activities for the kids.

The street adjacent to the garden was closed off for the day to welcome the neighborhood into the garden. On stage was an exciting program including Egyptian belly dancers, and the Latin sounds from Santos and the Romantic 4 Plus. Filling the streets were art and craft artisans, a video installation, and an interactive artwork made from pumpkins growing in a garden nearby.

The show kicked off on June 21st, 2007.

 

Art on Dean

The Art on Dean art expose was a working collaboration with the Walt L. Shemal Garden in Brooklyn, GreenThumb and other local art organizations. Over 18 artists brought their paintings, sculptures, fashion and music to the garden on a warm day in August.

The local artists revelled in the opportunity to showcase their work in a beautiful relaxed setting, while browsing around, meeting other artists and enjoying the sweet sounds of the jazz band.

There was lots of art, food, and entertainment. It was a day to be creative and to celebrate the wealth of talent within the community. Art on Dean 2007 is sure to become an annual event, growing in participation every year.

The show opened on August 25th, 2007.