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梅兰竹菊 The Four Gentlemen

Scrap Redwood Piece

梅兰竹菊 - plum blossoms, orchid, bamboo, and chrysanthemum - are known as the "Four Gentlemen" or "Four Noble Ones" in the Chinese culture. The characteristics of these plants have been admired and looked up to throughout thousands years of our culture: elegance, perseverance, inner beauty, humility, integrity, virtue, etc.. These four is a repeating pattern/set you might encounter when browsing traditional Chinese paintings.

Zhao grew up in China studying Chinese calligraphy and painting, and she used to spend her winter breaks and summer breaks all day everyday at the painting studio with her teacher, just to practice calligraphy and painting. Those are still some of the happiest days of her life. But it has been very hard to keep on practicing it when Zhao came to the States. Without the atmosphere, and proper materials, she started to do Chinese calligraphy and painting less and less over time.

For this project, Zhao found a piece of scrap wood that was going to be thrown away. She wanted to re-create these Four Gentlemen in a Chinese painting-like style, but with carving, not a brush and ink. She decided to keep the wood as the way it already was, without smoothing and trimming any of the surface. It's super cool to create something on what was going to be a useless object. This is also an interesting clash of cultures with the symbol of Chinese culture on a piece of Californian redwood.

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