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Dream to Fly

Man can't fly, but there have been people who dreamed to fly throughout the history of various civilizations. During the Zhou Dynasty of China over 3,000 years ago, one climbed to the top of the mountain and jumped down with feathered wings and, with no surprise, fell to his death from the experiment. A similar episode played out in Paris too in 1912, when a tailor named Franz Reichelt jumped from the Eiffel Tower wearing a flying suit he sewed himself. He was killed from the fall and consequently mocked by some. But no death or ridicule has ever stopped those who dream to fly, whether in the past, at present or in the future. Despite having no wings, human beings are obsessed with breaking loose from gravity – which, in the eyes of some, is absurd; But for some others, it represents an honorable attempt. Liu Shiming's sculpture has shown his attitude - whether the dreamers actually made it is not the point. What the sculpture eternalizes is the very moment the dreamers spread their wings. The reason why Liu Shiming made this sculpture was to commemorate a man named Jiang Feng, a famous printmaker and art educator in China and one of Liu’s teachers when he studied at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in his youth. In 1957, Jiang was branded as a "rightist" in a political movement. After more than 20 years of numerous hardships, he was "rehabilitated" only until 1979 and returned to serve as the president of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. He was eager to make up the lost time and revive the art education that has been interrupted for years, and was hunting for talents everywhere. He eventually got in contact with Liu, who was engaged in the restoration of cultural relics at the History Museum, and invited him to return to the Central Academy of Fine Arts to work as a teacher. Afterwards, Liu learned that Jiang had bent over backwards to find him, asking people everywhere to inquire about his whereabouts and insisting on finding him, citing his ingenuity and creativity. Liu was deeply moved. He wrote in his diary: "Thanks to President Jiang Feng, I returned to the Sculpture Department of CAFA. Making sculptures alone is my greatest wish and artistic enjoyment. I will spare no effort to create and produce more outstanding works." The years after returning to the Academy of Fine Arts proved to be the height of Liu’s creative masterpieces. To his regret, Jiang Feng had no chance to see these works. In the second year after his return to CAFA, Jiang passed away. Many recall Jiang as a person of sincerity and purity. His character can best be seen from the circumstances of his death: at a seminar, Jiang got in an artistic debate with others. At one point, he was so involved that he had a sudden heart attack and dropped to his death. He must have left with regret, since he was not done talking about the topic he was debating about; for the revival of art education, there are still plenty of things he had planned to do but had no chance to finish. What’s more regrettable are those who are still alive, as the world has lost another interesting soul. After Jiang Feng passed away, Liu Shiming wrote in his diary: "In my heart, Comrade Jiang Feng represents a spirit." What is this spirit? Liu Shiming didn't name it, but he gave his answer with sculpture. He melted his respect and memory for Jiang into this work, and engraved the words "Comrade Jiang Feng" on it. "Dream to Fly" was created in memory of Jiang Feng, but even if you don't know who he is, it doesn't prevent you from resonating with it. Because this sculpture is not a portrait from life, but a portrait of the soul.He who stops in front of this sculpture and ponders over it may have someone in the heart who has been dreaming to fly.

Dream to Fly

Liu Shiming







Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York (CUNY)


April 11,2023


On April, 11th, 2023, Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York (CUNY) and the Liu Shiming Art Foundation hosted a special installation reception and panel discussion to celebrate the work and legacy of Chinese sculptor Liu Shiming.The event also included the unveiling of Liu Shiming's sculpture work "Dream to Fly" which will be permanently displayed at the Macaulay Honors College.

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