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Collaborating With The Xijing Men

Kansas City Art Institute students experienced cross-cultural communication through art during a Sunday workshop with visiting artists at the H&R Block Artspace. As part of their 1o-day residency in Kansas City, the Xijing Men led the students through activities designed to inspire them to use their skills as budding artists.The three artists of Xijing Men - Tsuyoshi Ozawa of Japan, Chen Shaoxiong of China, and Gimhongsok of Korea - began collaborating in 2006. They've gained a reputation for staged scenarios dealing with absurdity, satire, and humor. The name of the artists' group is also a play on words: Xijing is a fictitious city with echoes of Beijing, Nanjing, and Tokyo (known in Chinese as Donjing).

During the workshop at the Artspace, Kansas City Art Institute student Will Meier teamed up with other students to create a visual story based on chalk hieroglyphs sketched by the Xijing Men. During a break, he wanted to discuss a picture of a temple he had seen online, but he did not have the words to express it.

"Let's try it the 'Xijing' way," Meier said, before running inside for a piece of paper. Once artist Tsuyoshi Ozawa saw the picture, the conversation continued.

"I really enjoyed this process. It took me right back to my childhood where my art began, at least for me," said Shenequa Brooks, also a student at the Kansas City Art Institute. "Reliving that experience of communicating through art has been, for me, exciting and enjoyable."

The Xijing Men's first North American exhibition at the H&R Block Artspace includes a new work created in Kansas City, as well as a survey of past videos, drawings and objects.

The H&R Block Artspace and the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas present The Xijing Men: Tsuyoshi Ozawa, Chen Shaoxiong and Gimhongsok, February 1 (opening reception, 6 - 8 pm) - April 2, 2013, at the H&R Block Artspace, 16 E 43rd St., Kansas City, Mo., (816) 561-5563.

Additional public events:

January 30, 2013, 5:30 - 6:30 pm: Xijing Art Summit. A political summit casting the artists as dignitaries. Spencer Museum Auditorium, Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi Street, Lawrence, Kan.

January 31, 2013, 7 pm:  Xijing Men, Current Perspectives lecture series at the Kansas City Art Institute, Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall, 4415 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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