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Ten Thousand Scrolls
Ten Thousand Scrolls

Dear Friends,

An ancient Chinese proverb states:

"Traveling ten thousand miles is better than reading ten thousand scrolls."
I received an invitation to visit China in 2011. While making travel plans I remembered the Chinese tanks hesitating and halting as they rumbled toward Tiananmen Square, blocked so powerfully by a man holding grocery bags. I realized ominous news reports and ubiquitous ‘Made in China’ labels had colored my perceptions of China over the years. I also knew my understanding of China would never be the same after visiting; I was glad of that.

I wanted to find a simple, quick way to work during my visit. I purchased a used film camera from craigslist, the same model I learned to photograph with as a child. I don’t speak Mandarin; I had to learn to say ‘Hello’ (Ni Hao) and ‘Thank You’ (Xie Xie) upon my arrival. I used these two phrases and my simple camera to introduce myself to hundreds of people during my stay. I used hand gestures to ask if I could take photos. I wanted to meet as many people as I could and look them in the eye. I wanted an opportunity to interact, if only for a moment. These meetings sometimes blossomed into invitations to visit their homes, to have soup (or tea, or apples, or oranges), to visit rooftop gardens, and once I was even invited to a wedding banquet. The camera became a vehicle to remove obstacles and open doors.

The black and white film I shot was hand processed during a residency at RayKo Photo Center. It was a joy to return to the darkroom. I spent ten months making test prints and then silver gelatin exhibition prints. I can't thank RayKo enough for their support, this project could not have been completed without them. The Artist-in-Residence exhibition will be on view November 16th-December 14th. RayKo will host an opening reception on Friday, November 16th from 6-8.

View Ten Thousand Scrolls Here

I didn't expect to continue this series, but a door opened for me to return to China in September with an invitation to exhibit in the Pingyao International Photo Festival. As it turned out, I returned to China the day after completing my RayKo residency work. During this recent trip I continued working on Ten Thousand Scrolls. I plan to return to the darkroom in 2013 to print the second part of Ten Thousand Scrolls.

With Thanks,

Kirk Crippens

Upcoming Exhibitions

RayKo Photo Center
Opening Reception:
Friday November 16th 6-8 PM

Artist-in-Residence Exhibition
Ten Thousand Scrolls
Curated by Ann Jastrab
San Francisco, CA

Gallery Carte Blanche
Opening Reception:
Friday November 30th 6-9 PM

1st Anniversary Exhibition
Call Me Home, featuring The Point
Curated by Gwen Lafage
San Francisco, CA

Current Exhibitions

Transmission Gallery
Unrestricted; Politics and Art
Curated by Ruth Santee
Oakland, CA

Cleveland Museum of Art
DIY: Photographers & Books
Curated by Barbara Tannenbaum
Cleveland, OH

Guate Photo Festival
Looking at Ourselves:
Portraits featured on Lenscratch
Juror: Aline Smithson
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Recent Features

Yvi Magazine





Pro Photo Coalition


Recent Honors

Gift of Gift of
Print from Hidden Population
collected by:
The Museum of Fine Arts
Houston, TX

Newspace Center for Photography
Artist in Residence
Portland, OR

Pingyao International Photo Festival
Guest Artist
Pingyao, China

Identities Now:
Contemporary Portrait Photography

Book by Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art
Featuring Hidden Population

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Copyright (C) 2012 Kirk Crippens All rights reserved.

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