J.J. L’Heureux is an established photographer and painter who has traveled to Antarctica every year for the past seventeen years. She had the opportunity to exhibit her work in four solo shows in China. Here is a Q and A about her experience.
Q: Can you tell me about your experiences exhibiting your work in China?
A: My exhibitions in China have been an adventure. My first exhibition and talk was at the 2017 World Internet Conference in Wuzhen (at the Henggang International Art Gallery) and took place during the conference. Wuzhen, Tongxiang, in the Northern part of Zhejiang Provence, is the permanent venue for the World Internet Conference started in 2014. As Wuzhen is a historic, ancient water town, it has been chosen for the conference because it can be completely closed to the public during the event.
My next venue was an invitation from a boutique hotel in Jiaxing, approximately an hour from Wuzhen in Northern Zhejiang Province, The Lanting 21 Hotel, with 21 rooms and a well-known restaurant. The hotel is popular with local officials and I was delighted when many people from my previous exhibition in Wuzhen came to the reception in Jiaxing. At each venue I have been surprised with giant banners announcing the exhibition, television interviews and articles in the China Daily. Many places I walked greeted me as if we were friends as they saw the TV interview on the “Good Morning Jaixing Show” and my photo was in the newspapers.
Q: Did you become close with any locals?
A: I have many new friends in China. The director of the Lanting Hotel is a woman full of warmth always having me stay in her best room. The hotel is an ancient palace on a canal each room built around the wooden pillars that support the tile roof making for large interesting shaped rooms…most having a private yard.
Q: What did you think of the cuisine of China?
A: I am a vegetarian, (laughed JJ), especially in China, as their foods often have small animals and parts of animals that I am suspect of. Saying I am vegetarian at a restaurant near the hotel with a number of new friends I was presented, by the chief, with a large bowl of small boiled snails! O My – I enjoyed noodles with tasty veggies that evening.
That being said…all the venues there have been indescribable dinners at giant round tables with every kind of Chinese food one could imagine. At the university the pastry chef made pecan tarts for desert in honor of my exhibition as she read this was a popular American desert.
Q: Where else did you exhibit?
A: Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, invited me to show at the university. Shanghai is the largest city in China with approximately 24 plus million people and the world’s busiest container port located on the Yangtze River Delta. With its extreme architecture full of colors at night it is the showplace of China. Jiao Tong University is the MIT of China and I felt honored to be invited to exhibit at this prestigious place. The university sent a car for me to show the location and auditorium and introduce me to the woman handling the exhibition. I realized my exhibition was sponsored by many school clubs: the photography club, cinematography club, the adventure club, etc. as after my talk each group had their picture taken with me in front of the banner. The school has hospitality major with a working hotel where I stayed. Again a lovely hotel with early morning geese for my wake up honk.
At the present time (December 2018), my exhibition continues to be at Jiatong University at the University of Michigan extension building on campus. The U of M is their sister school with exchange students from the USA and Chinese students working to be fluent in English and have dual degrees.
At each exhibition, J.J. would give a talk about her work and how she has witnessed climate change each time she returns to Antarctica. Read more about J.J.’s lectures on the Inspiration drop-down under the Stories Page. Find out more about J.J. L’Heureux on her website – http://www.jjlheureux.com/