by Nick (volunteer)
The Cheng Long Wetland International Environmental Art Project has ended, and I sit in Taipei typing on my computer at 8 o’clock in the morning. It is tough to sleep here, and there are no roosters crowing or birds chirping outside of my window. I have this feeling that I should be going to work at the wetland soon, or eating breakfast with everyone at the three-sided house, but these visions are dashed by the view from my window: a concrete mess of city, the sound of hundreds of cars and scooters, and the constant drizzle of northern Taiwan rains. When I walk outside here, I will not see the same students riding their bicycles or the Ama and Agong waving hello. I will see people who I am not connected to in any way, blank stares, and very few smiles. It is true that my negativity about the city has to do with the peacefulness of three weeks living in a village, and I know that eventually I will get used to life again. Forever, though, I will think of the new family that was formed at Cheng Long. The first night back in Taipei, many of us gathered while others chatted on Skype. We all felt that something was amiss because we weren’t sitting around tables talking about life, art, and making jokes together. So we tried to recreate this atmosphere. It is good to know that the family that has been created in Yunlin will remain strong even outside of the wetland.
There are positive and negative things about our project in Cheng Long, but I think on the grand scheme of things it is mostly positive. The children have been given insight into other cultures and they have begun to understand the environment that immediately surrounds them. From an artistic point of view, I have realized that land/environmental art is a complex form or work. The process to make these artworks is just as important as the finished work. The friendships made during this process, the late-night discussions, playing guitar at the pig house, cycling around the area, and other aspects of our lives for three weeks are all part of the artwork. Every villager is an artist and every child is an artist. When I write about Cheng Long, it is this point I would like to make the most. I can go into the pros and cons about having this art project, but I’d rather focus on the inherent beauty of the process and how it effects all people.