Art in LaShiHai

On Wednesday, we visited an art gallery and a local artist’s home in LaShiHai. The tour was led by Jay, a Washington D.C. native who has lived in the village on and off for the last 10 years. He is in charge of an artist in residence program in which he invites artists from all over the world to create art that will contribute to the community.

We first visited the art gallery: a modern 3- story white building that stands out among the traditional Naxi architecture. In the gallery, we saw landscapes, portraits, and sculptures made by artists from the village and other parts of China. One piece that stood out to us was a Naxi painting depicting a typical household scene done in a style meant to preserve and enrich the Naxi hieroglyphic language.

Next, we visited the home of an artist native to LaShiHai. He has traveled for several years but returned to his parents’ home in the village to open his own studio. As he led us through his home, we were amazed by the details in both his paintings and home. The majority of his work is done completely in pen and his unique use of line makes his paintings textured and engaging. He also dabbles in wood carvings which are just as impressive as his 2D work.

One of his current projects is a series of realistic charcoal portraits made to prove that he excels in many different styles. Another is a drawing of a statue of Mao surrounded by construction. He draws attention to the irony that a bomb shelter is being built under the statue in Kunming. This is just one example of his use of art as political critique. The afternoon helped us understand the role of art in the LaShiHai community.

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