With Margaret Shiu, Director of Bamboo Culture
In May of 2010 I participated in an artist’s residency at the Bamboo Curtain Studio, just north of Taipei. The Bamboo Curtain Studio, directed by Margaret Shiu, provides artists from a variety of disciplines with international residency opportunities, including housing and studio, as well as support to carry out community-based projects. My project took place at the Koo Foundation Sunyat Sen Cancer Center, where with the help of staff from the center and studio, I worked with patients. The patients’ courageous efforts to come to terms with cancer, and the dedicated work of the staff to assist them in this labor, affected me deeply. I wanted to create a testimonial to their bravery and accomplishments, and to the many levels of healing that take place at the Center. Concurrent studio work back at Bamboo Curtain began to deploy the halo form to represent deeper biological and social levels of harmony and heroism. To describe the interactions among patients, families, caretakers and physicians, I drew inspiration from forms at the microscopic level-- our lymphocytes and hematopoietic stem cells. Beyond the hospital, my studio work and other projects continued, and I participated in a number of activities, meetings, and presentations in Zhuwei, Tainan, Yingge, and Taipei, including the Zhuwei Creative Urban Village Workshop, a talk at the Tainan National University of the Arts, where I presented a lecture on my work and research and conferred with Professors Ching-Yuan Chang, Po-Ching Fang, and Shin-Yu Wang of their ceramics department. At the National Taipei University of the Arts, I attended a graduate exhibition and met with Professors Chien-Chou Liou, Jia-Haur Liang and graduate ceramics students in the ceramics department.
My community-based project concluded with a final meeting with the hospital team and presentation to health care staff. Subsequent to that meeting, “T Cell Halo,” one of the pieces I completed at Bamboo Curtain Studio, was permanently installed at the Koo Foundation Sunyat Sen Cancer Center. I am grateful for Margaret Shiu’s encouragement of this project, for Dr. Ging-Long Wang’s willingness to take it up at KFSYSCC, for the partnership of Dr. Hsu, Yi-Chen Ho, and Rita Ho, and for Florence Tong’s marvelous support with arrangements, travel, documentation and translation. Thanks to them, I have gained a broader perspective of how art practice can enhance end-of-life treatment, and I have learned that while the arts are always a measure of quality of life, their presence is perhaps even more important at the end of life. The research I undertook, the settings in which I was able to undertake it, and the people I met through this project gave me a unique view of the loveliness and generosity of people in Taiwan. I am also deeply grateful for the support I received from the Aikens family, as well as the Residential College, the Deans of Art and Design and LS&A, and other institutions and offices at the University of Michigan, which enabled me to carry out this research.
© 2018 Susan Crowell
Site Design by Catherine Meier