Tiao Xie ’16
A Student of Two Cultures: LEAP Graduate Student Tiao Xie Talks About Uniting Chinese and American Artists and Audiences
Coming to Colorado State University was destiny, according to Tiao Xie, a third semester graduate student in the LEAP Institute for the Arts. After studying music performance and music education, she envisions new possibilities as the result of what she’s learned in the master’s in arts leadership and administration program.
LEAP graduate student Marissa LoNigro asked Tiao what her life was like in China prior to coming to Colorado State University.
TX: I’m a singer by training and I worked professionally in China. I graduated when I was 21. After that I worked in China for 3 years. I worked in the propaganda department of my local government as cultural task manager. I worked to put together a lot of cultural and art events. Because of that experience I also participated on a three-month show for CCTV- Chinese National Television. For my second job I was a music performance professor at my school, Zunyi University. I taught pop music because my voice is really suited for that kind of singing.
ML: What made you decide to get a degree in arts administration?
TX: To graduate from Zunyi I had to plan my own recital and that meant getting programs, making posters, inviting people, and getting stage help, like lights. I did it all on my own, and I found that I had a talent for it. Also, after being on CCTV I saw how an event like that brings people together. It was inspirational. So I decided to go back to school to study that.
ML: What made you come to CSU?
TX: CSU is the only university that interviewed me. I was interviewed on Skype while I was in China, and from all of the schools I was interested in it was the only one that worked with me. CSU has been the most accommodating and they helped me improve my English. I think about it and I’m so lucky. It’s like destiny! It’s really beautiful and quiet here in Fort Collins too. My city in China was so loud! We had so many cars. I like it here. I like the quiet. It’s really beautiful here, with the mountains. You can go hiking and be healthy and smile! Here, everyone is really friendly. Here everyone smiles at strangers.
ML: What about your singing career?
TX: I sing in a choir at CSU now because I love the feeling of being on stage. When I’m singing, I feel like myself. Right now I’m also in an oil painting course. I felt like I should improve my art and learn more about different art forms so I can be an even better arts leader.
ML: What would you like to do with your degree after you graduate?
TX: Now that I’ve studied in Fort Collins, I know more than other Chinese people about American culture. I want to combine the two cultures. I would like to help Chinese artists come here for performances, and also help American performers find audiences in China. That’s my dream. I know so many artists and painters that would like to sell their paintings in China, but they need to know how to speak Chinese. I can help with that now. I’ve found that so many people study art but are not good at management. You were in art—you should know that.
ML: I completely agree! Sometimes I get a little frustrated because so many artists aren’t great art advocates.
TX: I hope I can be both an artist and arts leader.
ML: After you graduate would you like to stay here, go back to China, or travel between both countries?
TX: For now, I would like to stay here. Even if I go back to China I have this American experience, which would really help me get ahead. Experience with American culture is important. I like observing and learning. I think that even if skin color or language is different, people are the same wherever you go.
ML: For our degree we have to do two internships. Have you completed an internship and can you talk about that a little bit?
TX: I went to South Africa as part of a trip with the LEAP Institute for the Arts. That was my first internship. I worked with my classmate to help our professor, Dr. DeVereaux, during the trip. For example, we made a survey to help a South African clan figure out how to rebuild a cultural museum. That was the kind of work I did. I learned a lot.
ML: How is this degree going for you so far?
TX: Looking back, I don’t think it’s been very hard. It’s okay. The classes aren’t easy and they’re not for the lazy. But, looking back I don’t think it’s been really that difficult.
ML: Is there something special you’ve learned in the program?
TX: I feel like I’ve increased my cross-cultural capability. China has a huge market for entertainment, and I know what is popular and what will do well in China. People there want to engage with American culture. Artists need a team and a manager to facilitate the process of bringing them together with their audiences. I want to do that—I want to put on shows that bring people together like the TV show I was on.