The Liu Shiming Foundation Celebrates the Life and Legacy of Acclaimed Sculptor Liu Shiming Through Supporting Emerging Artists

Liu Shiming. All photos courtesy of The Liu Shiming Foundation.

Art non-profits play a critical role in fiscally supporting and guiding emerging artists. Founded in August 2021, The Liu Shiming Art Foundation was created to preserve the legacy of artist Liu Shiming’s work as well as to support art students and emerging artists. In April, the Foundation announced the very first ten recipients of the Liu Shiming Art Grant. Channeling Shiming’s longstanding passion for the arts, the $3,000 grant is given to young artists who are no longer enrolled in school or students enrolled in institutions outside of the Foundation’s partner universities and colleges.

This year’s inaugural recipient pool was incredibly diverse from their chosen artistic mediums to their geographic backgrounds, cultures, identities and chosen projects. Each artist’s focus is unique and reflective of a wide variety of interests and intentions while representing a commonality of spirit. However, this is not the only initiative that the Foundation is currently working on. Puiking Hui, Director of External Affairs, shares more about the significance of the Liu Shiming Art Grant and what the Foundation hopes to achieve by creating new relationships with other universities and colleges.

As Director of External Affairs, can you share a little bit more about your role at the Liu Shiming Foundation?

The Liu Shiming Art Foundation (501C3) was established in August 2021. For us, we needed to not only promote the Foundation’s mission but also to complete the Foundation’s structure. As the Director of External Affairs, my role during the past two years has been focused on building relationships with colleges and other nonprofit organizations that may eventually yield endowment funds or scholarships, which is very important to the organization. Building connections with accomplished people of different backgrounds and inviting them to join our advisory board and art committee is also critical to our mission.

Once the relationship is established, it’s also my job to maintain it and work with colleges and organizations to coordinate more activities, such as exhibitions displaying Liu Shiming’s artworks, and to converse about arts, sculpture donations, auctions, etc.

In the future, I will continue to work on building relationships with other colleges and people in the art world. As the Foundation, we may gradually shift our stance to reach out to more community organizations and local businesses to increase awareness and support for the Foundation’s mission.

Image from the Useless Machines opening at the Blanc Gallery, curated by Blair Simmons.

The recent announcement of the inaugural 2023 grant recipients is a major moment for the Liu Shiming Foundation, and is closely tied to the Foundation’s mission to provide opportunities for emerging artists and art students. What was the process behind selecting the ten grant recipients?

This was the first year that the Foundation awarded grants. We opened applications in September 2022 and closed them in February 2023. All applicants are required to submit a resume, portfolio, project plan, budget plan, and other supportive materials for the application online. The results are announced between March and April. Reviews are on a rolling basis. The Foundation’s Art Advisory Team is judging for the First Year Arts Grant. In the future, we will adjust the Jurors team according to the situation of applicants each year. We expect every applicant to be treated fairly and professionally.

Wei Luo playing during an immersive performance, The Performance Animal.

The 2023 grant recipients each received $3,000 to help further their project ideas. Can you walk us through what we can expect to see next from these artists?

You can see this information on the Foundation’s website, under the “Events” column. For artists located in and around New York City where the Foundation is based, we will make documentaries to record their art projects and give an in-depth introduction to their artistic ideas. We will also share and promote their projects and research through the Foundation’s network.

In the future, grant recipients will be invited to participate in our exchange program. The exchange program is designed to aid emerging artists in their journey and for them to have the opportunity to experience art and culture in different countries. They will learn about the restoration, replication, and protection of artifacts in museums. They will also have the chance to participate in workshops for stone carving, wood carving, and ceramics. In addition, exhibitions and art panels will be hosted, where these burgeoning artists will be able to showcase their artworks and exchange ideas.

Dancer Zachary Gonder dancing during thePerformance Animal.

This initial group of winners is incredibly diverse, from their chosen artistic mediums to their geographic backgrounds, cultures and identities. What type of artists does the Foundation hope to attract in the future?

We have three criteria for selecting artists:

First, we hope they are devoted to continuous artistic creation with innovation and emphasis on social significance being strongly encouraged. We have an appreciation for artists introducing new and creative ideas to address a particular problem or challenge.

From our perspective, innovative attempts means introducing new and creative ideas to address a particular problem or challenge.

Second, we believe that communication between various art categories is crucial, therefore, we set an extensive scope for the application, including fine art, applied art, music, etc. All backgrounds and mediums are welcome.

Third, diversity, equity, and inclusion will always be our norm. We plan to forge a platform for young artists through the Art Grant. In this community, artists can communicate and cooperate extensively.

To sum it up, this grant is not only to help them complete their projects, but we also hope that through our efforts, we can help them get more opportunities, such as professional guidance and social awareness.

Artist Sara Elmonshed in her studio.

Currently, the Liu Shiming Art Foundation awards numerous grants and scholarships throughout the year to young artists who are no longer enrolled in school or students enrolled in institutions outside of the Foundation’s partner universities and colleges. What other opportunities does the Foundation offer?

Here are three visions the Foundation is currently working towards: to develop a platform for scholars to exchange and communicate ideas for art creation, to help universities build collaborations with one another and to organize exchange programs where participants have the opportunity to experience art and culture in both China and the U.S. 

We hope to widen our scholars’ horizons, for them to understand a wider variety of art and culture, to meet new people and friends. Our ultimate goal is to aid scholars in their journey as artists, and through their works, allow others to see the beauty of our world more deeply.

Scenes from the Useless Machines opening.

The Foundation plans to award 100 scholarships every year to different partner schools. How many universities and/or colleges is the Foundation currently connected to?

37 scholarships have been established at 30 universities/colleges in 11 countries across 4 continents. Among them, 21 scholarships from 17 schools located in the US.

Can you share some additional details on how/why these schools were selected as partners?

The scholarships our Foundation provides are for art students, therefore schools with notable art programs are our preferred choices. We hope to build relationships with prestigious schools and to provide help to schools with students from disadvantaged backgrounds who need it most. Our partner schools span a wide range of universities, academies and colleges.

The Liu Shiming Art Foundation and staff from Georgia State University

Grant recipient artists Blair Simmons, Wei Luo and Melanie Brock recently held performances and exhibitions at the Blanc Gallery, which is located in the same space as the Foundation. What is the relationship between the Foundation and theBLANC Gallery?

theBLANC is a great partner of ours, we share a common mission to encourage the careers of emerging artists. We are honored to have their support through providing exhibition space for our grant-winning artists, and providing professional support on art projects.

Annoying Phone-Add-On by Shuang Cai and Rockey Ke in Useless Machines.

More and more people are becoming familiar with Liu Shiming’s work and history. What do you hope that people will take away from the Foundation, its initiatives, and rotating exhibitions?

The mission of the Liu Shiming Art Foundation is to preserve Liu Shiming’s artwork and support art students and emerging artists by encouraging the creation of all forms of art and multicultural study. We hope that people who engage with the Foundation’s work will have greater appreciation for the breadth and depth of Liu Shiming’s artistic legacy. They may also gain a deeper understanding of the social, cultural, and political issues that influenced Liu’s work. Through the Foundation’s initiatives and rotating exhibitions of Liu’s works, people may gain insight into the works of other emerging artists. Ultimately, engagement with the Foundation’s work can help promote a greater appreciation for the power of art to challenge, inspire, and transform our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Artwork from the Exhibition Cutting Through Mountains To Bring Water: The Sculptures of Liu Shiming.

What other exhibitions or initiatives can we expect to see from the Foundation in the future?

In addition to dedicating one of our galleries in NYC as the permanent home of Liu’s sculpture works in the US, we are also working with schools with whom we have established relationships with to provide more exhibitions of Liu Shiming’s work at different campuses. Our next exhibition will be at Rutgers University in New Jersey, from August 7 – September 21, 2023. After that, the sculptures will travel to Canada to be exhibited at Queen’s University and Western University.

We are also working with scholars to rotate exhibitions of their works at our galleries in NYC. Additionally, one of Liu Shiming’s sculptures will appear in the auction at Doyle’s auction house. The auction will be online on May 17th, 2023.

Hopefully, we can open a summer camp in China in 2024. We can’t wait to bring our scholars there to study at museums and at some well known Chinese artists’ studios.

About Liu Shiming:

Liu Shiming (1926-2010) was a revered Chinese sculptor, whose works have made a distinct impact on the course of modern Chinese sculpture art. Born in 1926, Shiming attended the Central Academy of Fine. As early as 1950, Shiming received international recognition for his work Measuring Land, and thereafter, Shiming continued to make large-scale and publicly displayed sculptures. In the 1960s, Shiming resided in the countryside of Henan and Hebei provinces, where he gained a unique perspective on the working class and rural life. His time outside of the city, and closely handling folk art works in local museums, inspired Shiming to focus on everyday scenes in his works, becoming a common theme of Shiming sculptures. Today, Shiming is recognized for his ability to beautifully capture the most mundane scenes, as well as his aptitude for fusing folk traditions with modern sensibilities.

​Liu Shiming works have been displayed in prominent galleries and spaces across the globe, including exhibitions in Beijing, Washington D.C., and most notably a special exhibition in the main atrium of the Oculus in New York City. In 2018, the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing founded the Liu Shiming Sculpture Museum, dedicated to researching and investigating Liu’s artworks and their historical significance.

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