Dual Identity: Between arts and education

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Run Run Shaw Creative Media Center, where Zheng Bo's office locates

Run Run Shaw Creative Media Center, where Zheng Bo works (Photo by Eileen)

HONG KONG_ Irregularly shaped and artistically designed, the Run Run Shaw Creative Media Center building stands distinctively among the surrounding architecture. Despite the somewhat disobedient outside, its inside is serious and conventional. The contrast in itself demonstrates its duality.

Zhong Bo, 39, an artist and professor at City University of Hong Kong (Photo by Eileen)

Zhong Bo, 39, an artist and professor of City University of Hong Kong (Photo by Eileen)

Resembling the building where his office locates, Zheng Bo is also a person of duality.

Zheng, 39, has been working in arts ever since his undergraduate years when he took it as his major. Now, having created many artistic works and held exhibitions in many major cities all over the world (Hong Kong, Beijing, Barcelona, Berlin, etc.), he is already an established artist.

“I always think being an artist is a great excuse for doing things,” Zheng says, “A lot of people want to do interesting or crazy things, but they can’t convince either themselves or other people. Artists always enjoy such privilege.”

For more than ten years, Zheng has been working on ‘socially engaged’ arts, focusing upon minority groups – Filipinos, lesbian couples in Hong Kong, etc. The central theme of the idea – as its name indicates – is to engage people in arts and arouse public attention on particular groups in society.

Artistic work by Zheng Bo at the exhibition (Photo by Eileen)

Zheng, along with many other artists, has held many exhibitions on the theme. The most recent one – Shamans and dissent – is being held at Hanart Square in Hong Kong.

Zheng is also working as a professor, teaching art in City University of Hong Kong. He says he enjoys his current work and feels fortunate to have gone into these two professions.

“Part of my work as an artist is to expand the notion of teaching; a lot of my work is also about teaching,” he says. “Teaching and doing arts are complementary to each other.”

“They are both serious,” Zheng says, “It [teaching art] pushes me to think through everything more clearly as I need to clarify them to my students.” Meanwhile, he has been trying to reflect something serious in his artistic works as well as his lessons. He says there are a lot more to explore in both areas.

“It’s still an ongoing process. For me, the goal is quite clear, and I just need to keep working on both,” Zheng says, with a determined expression.

About me

To give you a brief introduction about me, let’s start from my name. An impressive name is meanwhile a very brief, but exact descriptions of a person, as least prominent characteristics of him/ her; it contribute to deep impressions as well. My name serves both functions. My Chinese name is Yu Xiaoxi. Yu is family and in Chinese it bears the same pronunciation with another character which means “fish” in English. So there was a period when all my close friends call me “Fish” as a nickname; Xiaoxi equals “stream” or “creek” in meaning. So “fish” in “stream”, that’s my name. What do you think of? Mostly probably, comfort and freedom, right? I’m just such a person: I enjoy freedom to do whatever I enjoy to make myself feel comfortable, not only physically, but more importantly, psychologically.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I choose to pursue further study in international journalism: I enjoy approaching new stuff, figure out what is going on in certain field through critical thinking. I always want to be among the first group of people to know events of particular areas that I interested in. But for me, to simply know the stuff is far from enough. I have great passion to share them with others, especially those who hold similar interest or concerns regarding the stuff. I also enjoy writing, both in Chinese and English. There was a time when I had a dream to become a novelist. So I read extensively and started writing short stories in my early days. Even my English name, Eileen comes from my favorite Chinese writer, Eileen Chang. But as time passes, I tend to shift my interest in real-world stuff, everything that is happening around us. They not only reflect facts from real world; they are facts of the real world. So from my perspective, they can be more thought-provoking and appealing. “In Cold Blood”, by Truman Capote is one non-fictional novel which is of significant attraction for me since it perfectly combines journalism and literature. It is of great charms to me ranging from content to depth. Profoundly influenced by the works, I become more interested in feature stories and individuals covered in the news. Hopefully, I could come up with great stories in the future. I also like writing about gorgeous things, everything splendid, spectacular and nice, like tourist resort, natural scenery, fashionable attire, delicate cuisine … Nice stuff is everywhere around us and it is well worth the efforts to be delicate and insightful enough to bear them in words and share them with more people. I will also gradually polish my language to be further eligible for the area.

Besides writing, I think photography is also a vital aspect in journalism. However, despite my keen interest in shooting pictures, I’ve never been able to shoot great ones, not even barely satisfactory ones. It calls for more endeavors in practice and I believe I’ll make it.

What I’ve introduced is somewhat future-oriented. People always look to the future more than the past. We look back to review the past, but we are always living the future. So my introduction for my past experience comes last as background information. I’ve just graduated from the University of International Business and Economics in July, 2013. I majored in English and minored in Chinese linguistics and literature. I’ve been an intern for several organizations during my four-year study in Beijing. I’ve been editor assistant in a fashion media magazine; I’ve done public relations and translations in an advertising company; what challenged me most was the experience of teaching in Beijing New Oriental School. There I met lots of teachers as well as students, learned to be more confident and open in minds when communicating with others. I also learned to be calm and behave properly when teaching on the podium or being recorded in from of the camera. All such experiences are greatly precious for me. Now, having started a brand new journey in Hong Kong Baptist University, an entirely new environment where I have met plenty of new schoolmates and professional, where I have not totally been adapted to, where it will take time to investigate and appreciate, where I’m confident to make great progress in approaching my dream, I’m well prepared!

Last but not least, feel free to contact me at 13418459@life.hkbu.edu.cn. I would really like to make friends with all kinds of people!

Sept. 12, 2013

Eileen