Foreign travel is sometimes a bit like peering over a cliff…a little anxiety, a lot of exhilaration (View from the side of Maijishan).

IMGP6993 copyHi, I’m Rick Hintze, a potter who lives in Wisconsin and has a shop and studio in Johnson Creek. I moved to Wisconsin in 2001 after taking an early retirement from teaching ceramics, sculpture, and art history at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. While I enjoy traveling, my default mode is as a home-body, making pots, working on house projects, cooking, and gardening. Through my wife Sue’s interests however, I have had several opportunities to get out-of-town, out of the States actually, and travel, especially to China, and this blog is an attempt to tell a little about the places we have seen and the people we have met.

While there are major pottery sites in China that are the holy grail for many potters, for my part I did not want my experience on these visits to be dominated by ceramics, and so approached our trips as opportunities to see other sorts of things, assuming that I could not avoid seeing clay, especially in the several museums we would be visiting. My interest in this blog is primarily to share the visual richness I encountered, sometimes just on the street, and other times, in very special places.

Our travels in China took us to Beijing and Shanghai, but also to Buddhist temples near West Lake in Hangzhou, the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Muslim quarter in Xi’an, the Li River and Longsheng County rice terraces near Guilin, a primary and middle school in Wuda district, Wuhai, Inner Mongolia, a resort in Ningxia, and Buddhist cave art along the old Silk Road routes: Maijishan near Tianshui, Bing Ling Si near Lanzhou and the Mogao Caves outside of Dunhuang in Gansu province. All of this time we were not only seeing these historic and special places, but were also experiencing contemporary China, walking around, eating, shopping and observing the life and sights of the specific locations. Meanwhile, the main reason for our travel to China in the first place was Sue’s initial invitation in 2003 to teach at Beijing Normal University, fostering lasting personal friendships and professional connections that enabled us to return for further teaching and travel.