Art Series: WAIGUOREN!: Suzhou Through a Foreigner’s Eyes (外国人)

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Have you ever lived abroad? How did people respond to you as a foreigner? What were some of the sights and experiences that you are grateful to have had due to your living — not simply touristing — abroad? What comparisons and contrasts did you make between the foreign culture and your own? What were some of the odd experiences? The things that made you laugh out loud? 

In Chinese, the word, “Waiguoren” means foreigner. And because China is a somewhat closed culture, it’s not uncommon for some locals to stare, point, or yell, “WAIGUOREN!”when seeing a foreigner.

“At times, being a foreigner in China can be a bit like being a woman with breasts growing out of her forehead. Despite people’s best intentions, conversations all seem to be about one topic.

“Living as an expat ‘WAIGUORAN!’in Suzhou, China regularly opens my mind to wonder, despite the routine reminders of the cultural us/them dynamic specific to the situation. I’ve experienced a greater intimacy with East Asian temple culture, for example, celebrating festivals in Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian temples. Every day I see something new — something that stops me in my tracks— and opens my mind to the marvels of the world about us: things like seeing Western Christian architecture in the Far East; the cultural diversity found in the expat community; the growth of this paradoxical city with one foot in the old and one in the new; and the exuberant brilliance of current global trends in architecture.

Dave Alber creates Travel Art and Travel Writing. His Travel Art shares an experience of wonder at our cultural continuity and universal humanity. His recent Travel Art exhibitions INTIMATIONS and Ravages of Time & Permanence of Wonder are in Kunshan and Suzhou, China respectively. Dave’s comic art and illustrations have appeared recently in That’s ShanghaiSuzhou ReviewShaving in the Dark, Open Magazine, and Nepali Renaissance. His comic “Bedding Shanghai” was featured in the Shanghai International Literary Festival. You can receive Dave’s art book Dave Alber: Travel Art: 2018 Part 1: Intimations for free at Dave’s longer Bio and Artist Statement is here.

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Get Your Free Copy of my Travel Art book: INTIMATIONS

  • 23 paintings reflecting adventures in China, Myanmar, and Nepal
  • four travel articles
  • two pages of hand painted comic art
  • and one delicious recipe for cooking Mandarin Fish
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What readers say about Travel Art: INTIMATIONS:

“Fascinating idea to combine travel art into a book and a website community.”

“Creative expression from travel impressions married to art.”

“Loved it!”

“Master of your imagination.”

Join the TRAVEL ART ADVENTURER’S CLUB, get the Art Book INTIMATIONS, and be the first to see new paintings!

  • Sign up for the Travel Art Adventurer’s Club and receive your free art book
  • Also you gain discounts on Portrait Painting and Travel Art commissions
  • And You’ll get travel discounts and opportunities
  • Finally you earn advance notice about auctions, exhibitions, and events

Thank you for being part of the Travel Art Adventurer’s Club family.

Dave Alber

Copyright © Dave Alber 2019

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