Exhibit on Place and Space in China at COA

Imperial City Wall Relic Site Park, photo by Austin Bamford ’13
Imperial City Wall Relic Site Park, photo by Austin Bamford ’13
Posted April 26, 2013, at 6:52 p.m.

Monday, May 6 to Friday, May 10, 2013; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: College of the Atlantic - Ethel H. Blum Gallery, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

Contact: Donna Gold; 207-288-5015


BAR HARBOR, ME—Can design improve happiness? That is the basic question that Austin Bamford, a senior at College of the Atlantic, asked when he traveled to Beijing, China this winter, to look at the city’s parks, public spaces, and traditional neighborhoods. He is presenting his findings in the form of photos, descriptive posters, and impressionistic glass sculptures in an exhibit titled “Foundational Landscapes for a Livable Beijing” in the college’s Ethel H. Blum Gallery of Art. The exhibit runs Monday May 6 to Friday May 9, and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As a student of both economics and design, Bamford is probing the connections between human welfare, economics, and design. He’s also asking the question what makes people happy? How much of life’s satisfaction is related to the income people earn, and how much to the experience of one’s environment: traveling to work, or the space they might have to play with their children.

The exhibit, he says, reflects the various landscapes of Beijing, from the political—especially the huge governmental buildings, and public squares that offer very little to look at—to the economic, exemplified by the city’s modern skyscrapers, to neighborhoods of traditional architecture, known as hutong.

The three parks and three neighborhoods Bamford is exploring in his exhibit will be represented with photos and architectural drawings, as well as posters that explore both economics and aesthetics. As an ardent glass blower, Bamford will also display three glass sculptures that reflect the relationships between rigid and organic forms implied in the differences between government buildings, parks and the hutong neighborhoods.

Writes Bamford, “Beijing’s roles as a political, economic, and culturally symbolic city define its landscape. The city has many monumental buildings and streetscapes that house these three functions. Fortunately, there are two distinct spaces that facilitate critical human activities that Beijing otherwise denies: public parks and hutong (alleyway) neighborhoods. The acknowledgement and promotion of more spaces like these in Beijing could produce preferable economic and lifestyle conditions for people both in Beijing and elsewhere in China.”

For more information on this exhibit on Beijing in COA’s Blum Gallery, Monday, May 6 to Friday, May 10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., contact or 207-288-5015.

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