Wang Shu and Traditional Practices


Wang Shu came to visit RISD during the Fall of 2011 and made a speech about his practice in China. At the time I knew very little about Mr Shu but developed an interest in his approach to architecture. His lecture in the Fall consisted for the most part of the way traditional Chinese paintings inspired his work. This made me think about my interest for the “naive paintings” in Haiti as I approached my thesis back in the Summer of 2011. In the progression of my thesis, I decided to work on the Manoir Alexandra, and also focused on designing spaces of exhibition for the classical painting “Oath of the Ancestors”. The traditional Haitian art (mostly renown through Haitian painter Ismael Saincilus) took the back-burner. Upon critiquing my work, a teacher who had spent a year at the China Academy of Art praised Wang Shu’s campus for the many performance spaces it allowed. She encouraged me to go back to the Haitian “Naïve” paintings, two-dimensional pieces of work that reveal layers of depth. She also encouraged me to watch the movie Piña for inspiration because in designing the dance spaces of the Manoir, I always dealt with dance and movement through space.

Below are some pictures of the China Academy of Art selected via a google search. Most recently Wang Shu has been written about in this NYTimes article: An Architect’s Vision: Bare Elegance in China

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Dos Creux I S

Jeux d’Enfants

Dos Creux I S

You turn one bone to its Back to find a VoId and this skinny stick eventually curves into an S

You will spin into your  years and you will do the same to your kids as you teach them how to play with bones. Spin them around in full circle, holding both arms and eventually just the hand for a graceful pirouette into the dizziness of later years

Inspiration to a Narrative

For my class on Museum Interpretation, we were assigned some readings in Neil MacGregor’s “History of the World in 100 objects”. We had to read the story of “Object 59”, which covered the acquisition of a Buddha Stone Head  from the Borobudur Temple in Indonesia by the British Museum. The Borobudur Temple is a UNESCO Heritage Site visited by many tourists. 

Object 59: Borobudur Buddha Head- Stone head of the Buddha, from Java, Indonesia AD 780-840)


We are tracing the great arcs of trade that linked Asia, Europe and AFrica aroudn a thousand years ago,. Throuagh this stone head of the Buddha we can plot an extensive network of connections across the China Sea and the Indian Ocean by which goods and ideas, languages and religions, were exchanged among the peoples of souht-east Asia. It comes from Borobudur, on the Indonesian island of Java,just a fe degrees south g of the equator. Borodbudur is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in teh worlld and one of the great cultural achievements of humanity- a huge, square, terraced pyramid, representing the Buddhist view of the cosmos in stone, decorated with well over a thousand relief carvings and peopled with hundreds of statues of the Buddha. As pilgrims climb it, they are treading a physical path that mirrors a spiritual journey, symbolicaaly transporting the walker from this world to a higher plane of being. Here, on the rich and strategically important island of Java, at the monument of Borobudur, is the supreme example of how the network of maritime trade allowed Buddhism to spread beyond the boundaries of its birth and become a world religion.


As you climb through the different levels, you take a material road into a spiritual enlightenment.

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Pictures from UNESCO