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About the Artist

Born 1948, Changchun, China, Hung Liu was a student artist in the People’s Republic of China during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s. She understands the role of history and its changing interpretations. As a young woman, she was sent into the country to work as a peasant of occupation for four years. Later, resuming her studies, she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree equivalent in 1981 from the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing where she trained as a social realist muralist. Liu came to the United States to earn a graduate degree in art at the University of California, San Diego. She is a tenured professor in the art department at Mills College, Oakland, California.

Photo: Hung Liu

Oil on canvas, 78 inches by 114 inches

Above the Clouds, 2001

Hung Liu stresses the significance of education for Chinese youth in her painting commissioned for the Cerritos Library. Its title (Ling Yun) is a metaphor describing the heroes of old who had “ambition so high” that their minds soared Above the Clouds. Hung Liu began this painting with an historic black-and-white photograph and then layered her canvas with Chinese symbols that reflect both myths and meanings. The children in the painting are diligently studying their lessons. They ascend above a palace roof, an image taken from a 10th Century Sung Dynasty painting. The children are surrounded by flying cranes often associated in Chinese mythology with the heavenly qualities of longevity and serenity.

In the bottom half of the painting, the Lotus flower has roots in the earth, portrayed as a plain background. However, as the flower blossoms a desired and pure state is achieved. The Lotus is revered and associated with Buddhism’s concept of serenity. Other symbols in the painting are a snake that symbolizes the creation date of this work, the Year of the Snake, and chop marks identifying ownership by collectors who regard their art as a treasure.

Location: Elevator Tower - Third Floor