Artist uses her brush to aid quake victims

Updated: 2013-05-08 11:15

By Caroline Berg in New York (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

When Yan Weihong sent images to Sibylle Schwarz of the earthquake that struck Ya'an city in Sichuan province, China, in April, the German artist got out her brush.

From her home in Stuttgart, Germany, Schwarz made more than 40 drawings as an expression of her condolences to the lives affected by the disaster, which she will donate to the Confucius Institute at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina where she is an honorary professor.

"When she sent her earthquake artworks to me, I was totally shocked," Yan, who is an assistant professor of Chinese language, literature and culture, and executive director of the Confucius Institute at Pfeiffer, wrote in a press statement. "Her artistic language is very powerful and touching."

Schwarz found two diaries in the basement of her house when she moved in years ago - one from a priest and another from a woman who was a doctor and worked in China. After receiving Yan's photos, which she got from Google, Schwarz took one of the unfinished diaries and started drawing.

"I took the paper, which has history and heart inside," Schwarz wrote to Yan. "All material has a story and a human energy - paper is not paper, ink not ink."

The artworks, including "Two Sisters Crying," "A Face of Pains" and "When Birds Stop Singing," are meant to convey Schwarz's thoughts and prayers for the earthquake victims.

The temblor that hit Ya'an on April 20 killed 196 people, injured more than 11,000 and left an estimated 100,000 homeless. While thousands live in Red Cross tents, flood season has caused landslides along the major route for transporting disaster relief materials.

"I have relatives in that area," Yan wrote in an e-mail reply to questions from China Daily. "Fortunately, they are safe."

The German artist's donation will coincide with the fifth anniversary celebration of the Confucius Institute at Pfeiffer on September 13. The institute also plans to showcase other artworks by Schwarz that combine Chinese ancient calligraphy with her Surrealist art philosophy.

"I am glad that the great influences that Confucius Institutes have been playing have drawn people's attentions from around the world," Yan wrote to China Daily. "I really appreciate that [Schwarz] wanted to express her love and sympathy to China earthquake victims through [our institute]."

Schwarz also wants to donate her artworks through the Confucius Institute at Pfeiffer University to the Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing.

The drawings at Pfeiffer will be displayed at the institute for three months, with 10 pieces rotated at a time. By January 2014, the artworks will be exhibited at Chinese universities and US museums, according to Yan.

"My art philosophy has been deeply influenced by Chinese traditional art, as well as calligraphy," Schwarz wrote.

Yan believes Schwarz is leading modern art in a new direction. The honorary professor is helping the institute in North Carolina research the influences of Eastern and Western aesthetic philosophies on contemporary art and the Chinese writing system.

With Schwarz's donation, Yan hopes to feature her unique East-West artistic philosophy in the academic Chinese art courses offered at the Confucius Institute at Pfeiffer.