For China’s art cram schools, things heat up just before the Lunar New Year. Many a hopeful art academy entrant spends China’s highest holidays in the classroom. It’s a cycle, and a system, that has come to seem natural, when in fact, it’s unparalleled anywhere else in the world, the bastard progeny of an examination regime and education system both in need of reform. Yet the schools thrive, offering the convenience and practical results the system calls for. The cram schools don’t think about preparing the students for the four years that follow. They teach them how to get in.
BIG BUILDINGS ON CAMPUS
With the rapid expansion of China’s art institutions in recent years, academies have undertaken ambitious architectural projects to meet an unprecedented rise in student enrollments. New campuses have taken shape in new locations, and trailblazing architects have been employed to engineer spaces for the next generation of China’s art students. In this segment, LEAP unveils the impressive new structures that dot campuses from Beijing to Chongqing, Hangzhou to Tianjin, all captured through the lens of Beijing-based photographer Boris Shiu.
The question of art education in China is a complicated. While there is no easy solution, acknowledging the obstacles is a prerequisite to confronting the issues. To this end, we interviewed eight artists who teach (or taught) in art academies. Among these are Chen Danqing, whose resignation from Academy of Arts and Design Tsinghua University sparked heated debate, as well as the newly minted art professor Yang Fudong. Some are department chairs, others have built departments, or hold entire schools on their backs. They lead reform within the art education system, ever as they confront its status quo.