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Cutting Through Mountains To Bring Water: The Sculptures of Liu Shiming

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

Written by Emma Alcorn

Thursday, September 29th

On Thursday, in partnership with faculty and students at the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design of Georgia State University in Atlanta, the Liu Shiming Art Foundation unveiled its exhibition Cutting Through Mountains To Bring Water: The Sculptures of Liu Shiming. The exhibition, as part of Atlanta’s 2022 Art Week, features 24 of Liu Shiming’s sculptural works in ceramic, bronze, and wood.

Liu Shiming, Cutting Through Mountains to Bring in Water, 1970, bronze.

Liu Shiming’s 1970 sculpture “Cutting Through Mountains to Bring Water,” after which the exhibition is named, is one of the many works available for viewing. The sculpture depicts the striking figure of a man traversing harsh terrain in order to perform the task of gathering water––elevating the subject matter of the everyday to epic proportions. At the time that it was made, Liu Shiming’s usage of the natural world in this medium contradicted the traditional view “that sculptures should not represent environments; they should be focused on the figure.”

In keeping with the late Liu Shiming’s role as an educator, the Liu Shiming Art Foundation announced at the event that it would be awarding a graduate student with the first of many scholarships given to students majoring in sculpture, ceramics, and textiles at the school.

The Liu Shiming Art Foundation’s donation to the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design will go towards providing one prestigious candidate each year with a grant to encourage their advancement on the path of creation and artistic achievement.

Jay Kahn, Georgia State University’s Vice President

“This is an incredibly special occasion at Georgia State,” Jay Kahn, Georgia State University’s Vice President for Advancement expressed during the introduction of the exhibition.

“When someone shares an established artist’s work with us, the kind that will inspire our students to reach across cultures to enrich our community… It’s even more special when this support comes with a financial gift to continue to provide meaningful support for our students and the next generation of artists.”

Introducing the 2022 Liu Shiming Scholars Fund recipient Leslie Drennan, Wade Weast––a dean at the School of Art & Design––emphasized Drennan’s desire to “create work that explores the themes of domesticity, labor, and matriarchy while mindfully considering the source of her materials.” Leslie Drennan, a carefully selected Master of Fine Arts candidate in sculpture, is an accomplished craftsperson, primarily working in the mediums of woodworking, carving, sculpture, and ceramics, as well as in painting and drawing.

The Liu Shiming Scholars Fund supporting artist Leslie Drennan

“As a sculptor,” Drennan expressed, “I intend to use my background in craft to investigate the footprints humans are leaving on this world… This could mean incorporating waste items such as single-use plastics, or salvaged trees turned into furniture.”

Leslie, in her speech, identified the way in which art-making, itself, can be a potentially wasteful enterprise. She described that “using materials very thoughtfully and maintaining a sustainable art practice” was an integral aspect of her approach to art-making.

“I am grateful and excited to use this funding as a way to further my study of materials and explore my work conceptually, with more freedom and creativity,” Drennan added.

The exhibition will be available for viewing until October 28th at the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design gallery.

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