In Alumni in Action, Events

Dave Alber Showcases Comics, Illustration, and Oil Paintings Celebrating a Storyteller’s Approach to Travel in an Art Auction for Kenyan Schoolchildren

WangDe Art Shop,No. 8 Nanxianzi Lane, Suzhou, Jiangsu, China

Charity Art Auction for Kenyan Schoolchildren — June 30, 7:30 pm

Contact art exhibition — June 30 – July 30

Art Auction for Kenyan Schoolchildren was a collaboration between artists Dave Alber and Nathan Pelton and Art Curator WangDe of WangDe Art Shop in Suzhou, China. For several years now, Nathan Pelton has lead groups of Suzhou Foreign Language School students to Kenya for an exchange program with a school in an impoverished neighborhood. This art auction raised funds to buy school supplies and daily necessities for underprivileged children in Kenya’s slums. Nathan Pelton explains, “A seemingly insignificant one bottle of water, one pen, one pair of shoes is the most urgent need for underprivileged children in Kenya.” This art auction was a collaborative event that featured the wax encaustic art of Nathan Pelton and work in different mediums from Dave Alber, who strongly connected with the charity art auction, as his book The Heart of Myth: Wisdom Stories From Endangered People recounts the life ways and mythology of the Masai of Kenya (found here.)

The Contact art exhibition, curated by WangDe, celebrates a storyteller’s approach to travel by reflecting on the life and travel writing of Jan Morris, one of Britain’s greatest post-World War II travel writers. WangDe explains, “The theme of this exhibition follows in the path laid out by Jan Morris’ Contact, as a tribute to his/her travel writing, which contains extraordinary insight and immortal expression.”

The exhibition location in WangDe Art Space (itself a blend of dynastic-era and modern design) brings art to a residential setting, reminding us that paintings are not only for museums, but are actually far more accessible and even intimate. In this environment, images and text (in English and Chinese) pulse between media-based, utilitarian, and purely aesthetic contexts… blurring the boundaries between each in a truly contemporary international milieu. The foreign and domestic blend together and bridge the cultural gap through communications in both languages and the purely aesthetic realm beyond language. Narrative becomes space… and space becomes a social and experiential aesthetic whole.

Extending Jan Morris’s tradition of travel writing into the present, Dave Alber explores his own trajectory in illustrated articles, comics, and oil paintings as forms of visual journalism. The exhibition space of Contact, itself, is an experiment in “narrative space”. It brings work from three disciplines (comics, illustrations, and oil paintings) into one unique narrative space.

The narratives — in travel writing, comics, and illustrations — unpack the meaning of Chinese temples, festivals, food customs, architecture, and enigmas, such as Shangri-la. Outsider Art, Dave’s Bad Year to Be a Cat comic series explores a minority outsider’s perspective in Shanghai through the metaphor of a cat’s experience of dog year in China.

As WangDe explains, “With friendly understanding, a demonstration of respect, and a conscious avoidance of the narrow-minded rejection of the ‘foreign’, Dave Alber’s artwork exudes a light joy, but also offers the humorous perspective of an American traveler.”

Travel Artist, Dave Alber brought a unique cross-cultural experience to Suzhou, China with:

  • a collaborative charity art auction benefiting the schoolchildren of an impoverished neighborhood in Kenya;
  • a reminder of the present moment’s debt to the past, as signified by the exhibition location, the trajectory of travel narrative from Jan Morris, and the themes of cultural continuity reflected in his travel art;
  • Outsider Art, in a comic series written in both Chinese and English, sharing insights from being outside the dominant culture of the region; and
  • Contemporary Art blending both high and low aesthetics in a diversity of mediums in an event space designed to further disrupt the hard and fast distinctions within the art world.

Please see for more information.

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CONTACT: Dave Alber:

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