Chinese Photographer Visits Campus


David Li ’21

Jerry Sheng ’20 translates for Shi Guorui as he introduces his works.

With photographs that capture the essence of Chinese landscape painting and pay homage to the Hudson River School’s painterly style, local photographer Shi Guorui will discuss his work on campus this evening.
Based in upstate New York, Shi moved to New York’s Catskill Mountains from Beijing at the age of 55. He recognized Ansel Adams, a 20th-century photographer known for depictions of the American West, as an early influence from his time in school. However, his attraction to Thomas Cole’s depiction of the American wilderness ultimately encouraged his move to the Hudson Valley region. Recognized internationally for his works using pinhole cameras and gelatin silver boards, Shi’s eight works on the Catskills landscape were on exhibition last fall at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site.
Students in advanced photography electives were able to view the exhibit and hear Shi’s artist talk in person at his studio last fall, which then prompted the photo, film, and related media program to invite Shi to campus. Mr. Greg Lock, director of photography, film, and related media, worked with the language department to coordinate his visit. “Shi is a treasure hidden in the Catskills,” Mr. Lock said, “The time he spends in the process of [making] the images and [building] a narrative is awe-inspiring.”
Students taking photography and advanced Chinese courses are encouraged to attend Shi’s artist talk this evening, which will be conducted entirely in his native language, Mandarin. He plans to visit advanced photo classes tomorrow, where he will participate in workshops with student photographers.
This event presents an opportunity for students to gain insight into the artistic process of a professional photographer, as well as to experience the fusion of Chinese culture and Western arts. Lock commented, “I really hope the students learn from talking to him that creating art and [articulating one’s feelings are] not always a straightforward, linear, and simple process.”
Furthermore, many students are also excited about Shi’s visit to campus. Jaysen Jensen ’20, a photo student who visited Shi last fall, shared, “Meeting Shi Guorui [last time] was a wonderful experience. He shared stories of spending entire days trapped inside of a camera obscura attempting to capture the perfect shot. I was inspired by his entire aura. Seeing the work of professional photographers [like Shi Guorui inspires] me to [experiment] with different styles so I can branch out and expand my interests.”