“Shine Construction” Part 1
Mission: One drawing per day for 27 days. Drawn on location. The goal was to capture the hearts and minds of the people of Myanmar with art. Document the work, record the stories, and leave the drawings as gifts. Create an epic blog about the experience.
“Shine Construction” Part 2
Our second to last day in Burma and the city is unforgivably hot. The sun is so bright it hurts our eyes to look out the window. The curtains are kept closed. We relish every precious minute left to us despite the fact that we are weary now and tired of wearing the same clothes. My backpack has swollen over the past month and with each repacking I worry the zippers will give out so I’ve taken to attaching things on the outside, extra bags hang off the sides, scarves draped off the back, hats attached by safety pins.
This is our second visit to Yangon or as many still call it, Rangoon. We’ve already seen the major sites so are content to wait out the afternoon heat in our air conditioned hotel room. Indoors or out, there is a drawing to be done so I begin my daily hunt for subject matter. I look around the room but find nothing that interests me. Peering out the window at the buildings below, there is a chaotic symphony of line and color just begging to be captured. This is it. I soon realize though, I cannot see enough of the water from this viewpoint and its quiet clear shape is absolutely necessary to balance the craziness in the foreground. So I take my art supplies out into the hall to find a better angle.
The shades are drawn here as well and when I open them up the space floods with light and heat. It is sweltering by the window but I refuse to be deterred. By day 26 I am fearless about the drawing. My pen moves quickly across the paper without need of careful consideration. Even the complicated prospective below doesn’t bother me because it is the interpretation that is most important, not the accuracy. (Thank goodness for that because I haven’t the patience for perfect perspective drawing.)
Not long into it I realize this isn’t one sketch but two and it’s going to take a while. I am sweaty as hell and my pencil slippery. I spy a standing ashtray next to the elevator and drag it over to the window to sit on. Every time I return to my room for water or a break, this ashtray is returned to its proper place by a hotel staff member. I wonder what they must be thinking.
Yangon is the only big city in Myanmar, Mandalay (The Wild Wild West of the East) coming in a much smaller second place. Like most big cities it is lively and dense, a cacophony of sound, a patchwork quilt of shape and texture. Every street is a blend of beauty and decay. Buildings from the colonial era speak of a vastly different time now all part of the historical landscape. Our noses pick up the wonderful smell of curry around every corner as well as that of stinky garbage. The people here are very friendly although there is evidence of the edginess found only in metropolitan areas.
At last, we find reliable internet. Well sort of. During the last week of our trip, we started getting reports from the US of a serious illness in the family. These messages were incomplete and alarming. The electricity went out regularly and this made connecting to the internet frustrating if not impossible. No Skype. No long distance telephone. No modern communication. But Yangon had a bit more on the ball from a technical standpoint and we found an internet café just around the corner. It was a narrow slit of a space, packed floor to ceiling with antique electronics and equipment. Sitting down in front of an old CPU, I watched as the proprietor touched two bare wires together to start the thing up, it’s power source a motorcycle battery. Then as I worked, she sat on a stool just behind me chanting the words of Buddha. It was a comfort to me, this gentle singing. A soothing background to my tears as I was finally able to call my loved ones back home.
*The Burma Project Show debuted on August 8th, 2013! Encore presentation, September 14th. For information on this and future shows, contact me. email@example.com