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Meet Shencheng Xu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shencheng Xu.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born in a small town located far north in China. When I was nine months old, I had to live with my grandmother because my parents were sent to the countryside for reeducation purposes during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Ever since I could remember, my grandmother always told me about how my parents were artists; even during the hardest times of their life, they continued to create and share their art. Since then, I felt like art was in my blood and I also found out I really enjoyed making art on my own. When I was thirteen years old, I was able to move back and live with my parents again, and also had opportunities to watch them make art. Their passion and love of art became a great inspiration to me, and influenced me to set up my goal of becoming an artist myself one day. I chose sculpture as my major during my undergraduate studies because I really appreciated the physical labor involved in the art-making process.

And at the same time, I learned that art was an effective tool for expressing myself. I was chosen to teach art at the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts in China right after I graduated. From then on, teaching and making art became integrated as a part of my life. In 1999, I started my MFA in sculpture studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art. During my graduate studies, I worked as a Teaching Assistant for three different courses and taught sculpture for the Continue Studies Program. With all those experiences, I was able to teach sculpture courses at the Northeastern Illinois University Art Department. I feel that I love making art as well as teaching art, and not only I can share my knowledge and expertise with my students, but also I always inspired by my students as well. I believe art is a great tool for breaking barriers and bringing everyone together.

Please tell us about your art.
My work is directly linked to my life experience. The world I live in, my responses to it, and any insights I gain are all sources of inspiration. My combined urge to create and my love of nature help bring into focus my central idea for which I use traditional techniques to address contemporary issues. My sculptures combine human forms with other organic forms to express the relationship between nature and man. I am developing a language of forms that I use in various combinations to create visual stories. These forms are the key components of my sculptural installations. The forms I choose are integral to my concepts. My work considers the differences between yourself and each other as well as the differences between traditional and contemporary minds of thinking. I believe that my sculptures will help us to see more connections between ourselves and the natural world. Hopefully, it will give us a greater appreciation of each other.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
As an artist and educator, I believe an artist has much more responsibilities for the society than at any time in human history. Because of the fast developed social media and internet, the artist’s participation becomes more extensive and dynamic. Even though a lot of times, we still can not solve the problem, but as artists, at least we can point out the problem.

I had made several pieces in response to the endless war, which is still going on in the world, and culture related issues mixed with other social issues around us today.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
In China, I completed over a dozens out-door monumental sculptures in Shenyang, Dalian, Dandong, Qingdao, and some other cities.

In 2001, while I was still in graduate school, my sculpture “Calculation”, was selected to be installed at a middle school in Baltimore.

Since I come to Chicago in 2003, I made over fifteen outdoor sculpture pieces for public display, and eight of these pieces are permanently installed in the Chicago area.
• “ Ever Alert”, Elm Place School, Highland Park, 2005
• “Our City”, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, 2008
• “Gourd Man II”, Village Green Park, Skokie, 2009
• “A Song of Joy”, Avoca West School, Glenview, 2010
• “Gourd Man I”, 2224 N. Clark Street, Chicago, 2014
• “Wonderful Tonight”, The Black Ensemble Theater, Chicago, 2016
• “Catch Up”, 47 Harrison Street, Oak Park, 2017
• “Fly with the Wind”, 4421 N. Clark Street, Chicago, 2018

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Image Credit:
Shencheng Xu

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