The Cross-Cultural Art Exchange was created after the realization that it is the differences between people that can come together to create something beautiful. With the news constantly forecasting about how divided the world had become, I wanted to help my community recognize that although nobody has the ability to change someone’s experiences, how they grew up, what kind of culture they were raised in, or what color their skin is, these aspects of a human being shouldn’t be changed, but rather cherished. Putting together two passions of my life, community service and art, I started the Cross-Cultural Art Exchange where six Albuquerque, USA, art students and six Lanzhou, China, art students get together to share culture and experiences while creating integrated art pieces.

We meet up every two weeks over the course of a school year and summer on the app WeChat to talk about current events and cultural differences. Details about our meetings and conversations can be found on the Timeline. More about the understandings we reached is summarized on the Cross-Cultural Contrasts page.

All of us in a video call on WeChat
AnaMaria Perez’s half art piece

In the first half of the year, each student was challenged to illustrate, in half an art piece, what they think the defining characteristics of their home city and country are and what they want to depict about their culture to a student living thousands of miles away.

The half-completed art pieces were scheduled to be mailed to the other country in early January. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the package mailed from the United States was delayed by over two months. Despite these challenges, our group still met up throughout the outbreak and continued to share our differences and experience with the coronavirus while politics between our two countries clashed.

By April, the Lanzhou students had received our six Albuquerque paintings

Gabby Nemer’s half art piece
赵润德 ‘s half art piece

and the Albuquerque students had received the six Lanzhou paintings.

In mid-April, each student selected the piece they felt most inspired to complete, started working on their ideas, and confronted the challenging task of integrating the already half-completed piece into their new half. Our design ideas are located on the Individual Pieces page. And our pieces are scheduled to be finished by mid-August. You can view our current progress at the Cross-Cultural Gallery.

李佳怡 and Andrew’s Completed Piece

The result of this project is twelve art pieces, half Lanzhou Chinese and half Albuquerque American, to show that although we are different and grew up in dissimilar cultures, it is these contrasts that come together to create something beautiful. It gives a physical object for our peers to see and understand that we should cherish what makes us unique and not be ashamed to display who we are because ultimately those small things can make a big difference in the world we will one day be responsible for.

Sarah Wang’s half art piece
王子晗’s half art piece

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