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April 13, 2001

Renowned Artist Hung Lui Talks
About Art, Democracy and Communism

Most art tells a story, but artist Hung Lui's work documents a revolution. Liu is a storyteller whose art reflects the turmoil of her life that in turn paralleled the birth and evolution of Chinese communism. She will talk about her work and her personal experiences at 2 p.m., Thursday, April 26 at California State University, Sacramento in Mariposa Hall 1000.

Only six months after Lui was born in China in 1948, Liu's father was imprisoned as a traitor and she was not reunited with him until 45 years later.

In 1968, Liu was forced to leave her mother to work in the country's rice fields for four years as part of China's Cultural Revolution re-education effort.

"The Cultural Revolution happened when I was 18. Most of us were sent to the countryside, some to military farms. All the intellectuals, even junior high school kids up to famous writers, musicians, actors, all who had something to do with the intellect, were sent to get re-educated by the working class," Lui says.

In 1972, Lui enrolled at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing. Trained in the socialist realist style of art, Lui takes photographic images and drips linseed oil on the surface, creating an effect that makes the images look as though they have been ever-so-slightly rained on.

"Everything is relative. My work is not timeless. It's not universal, as if anywhere you take art it will always be the same. Rather it is already broken down, with different cultural styles. There is a lot of middle ground and ambiguity, especially when I use historical photographs," Lui says.

Interweaving aspects of Western and Eastern culture, Lui's works reflect the artist's Chinese heritage within the context of her immigration to the United States in 1984.

"The value of photography, I think, is that it is a democracy. In front of a camera, no matter if someone is a slave in Africa or royalty in China, all subjects level out and are the same in the image," Lui says.

Liu's work portrays the consequences of authoritarian power, the collision and assimilation of individual and national identities and the changing roles of women in Chinese society.

Liu received her master's degree in 1986 at the University of California, San Diego. She is currently an art professor at Mills College in Oakland, California.

For more information about Lui's talk call (916) 278-6166. Media assistance is available by contacting the CSUS office of public affairs at (916) 278-6156.


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