Architects are playing a vital role in rebuilding the dilapidated houses in villages affected by natural disasters or the migration of the population to cities. These architects are incorporating local cultural elements into the designs to give the houses a sense of identity and a connection to the community’s history. By doing so, they are helping to preserve the cultural heritage of the area.
The increasing need for public spaces in cities has resulted in the creation of various eco-friendly communities. These spaces range from large-scale wetland parks to tiny vegetable patches that allow people to grow their own plants. These initiatives bring urban dwellers together, promoting a sense of community and a connection to nature.
The world of fashion and art is also taking notice of the importance of cultural heritage preservation. Designers are creating attire and ornaments that merge traditional handicraft from various ethnic groups with modern aesthetics. This combination creates unique designs that offer opportunities to increase local incomes and preserve the ethnic cultural heritage.
By incorporating traditional handicraft into their designs, designers can attract a global audience interested in unique and authentic products. This can help to promote cultural tourism, thereby generating more income for the community. In addition, the recognition of these traditional handicrafts can help to protect the skills and techniques involved in creating them.
The integration of traditional handicrafts into modern designs is not limited to fashion. Furniture and home décor designers are also incorporating traditional elements into their designs. This fusion of traditional and modern elements creates unique designs that are appreciated by consumers globally.
The preservation of cultural heritage not only provides economic benefits but also contributes to the social well-being of a community. Preserving the cultural heritage of a community provides a sense of identity and belonging, which is essential for the mental and emotional health of individuals. Moreover, the preservation of cultural heritage promotes cultural diversity and understanding, which are crucial for a harmonious society.
The preservation of cultural heritage is becoming increasingly important in various fields, from architecture to fashion and art. By preserving cultural heritage, communities can promote their unique identity, generate income, and contribute to social well-being. It is crucial to continue to value and preserve the cultural heritage of various communities for future generations.
The China Academy of Art is hosting an exhibition called Songs of the Earth: Artistic Documentary for a Better China in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, at the China Millennium Monument in Beijing since March 1. Visitors to the exhibition can learn about 100 projects from around the country, where researchers and artists are working towards social innovation, community-building, and public art education.
The exhibition is divided into four categories – village, ecology, community, and digital – and the curators have adopted railway motifs to guide visitors through the exhibits, documents, and videos. The railway motif is intended to take visitors on a “journey” through the different categories and tell stories about each project.
Gao Shiming, president of the China Academy of Art, says that the exhibition reports on 100 projects by 100 individuals or teams who carried out fieldwork for an extended period. The exhibition aims to showcase their diligence and devotion to their respective projects.
Zuo Jing, a curator and scholar, has been working on rural reconstruction for more than a decade. In 2019, he was invited to Dananpo village in Xiuwu county, Henan province, which led to its revitalization. The village had gone through boom and bust, benefiting from coal mining in the 1970s but later suffering from resource exhaustion, pollution, and poverty.
Zuo saw the potential in the village because of its former economic prosperity, which left many public buildings, including the village committee office, an auditorium, and an outdoor stage. Instead of constructing new buildings, Zuo’s concept was to renovate existing abandoned buildings that carry the historical and cultural memories of the village.
The village reconstruction project involved local residents and artisans, who helped to preserve and revive traditional skills and crafts. For example, villagers learned how to use traditional techniques to make bamboo chairs and tables, which are now being sold as part of the village’s revitalization efforts.
Through this project and others showcased at the exhibition, visitors can learn about the importance of preserving cultural heritage and involving local communities in the revitalization process. These projects not only contribute to the economic development of the area but also help to preserve the cultural identity and heritage of the community.
The Songs of the Earth exhibition highlights the efforts of researchers and artists in social innovation, community-building, and public art education across China. Through the exhibition, visitors can learn about the importance of preserving cultural heritage and involving local communities in the revitalization process. The exhibition showcases projects like the Dananpo village reconstruction, which not only contribute to the economic development of the area but also help to preserve the cultural identity and heritage of the community.
A small village in China underwent a cultural revival in recent years, with its old buildings transformed into various venues such as an art center, a bookshop, a community center, an exhibition hall, and a renewed outdoor stage. This transformation was led by Zuo Hui, who aimed to restore the local culture and revitalize the village.
To achieve this, Zuo invited artists to create woodcarving and animation about the “seven sages of the bamboo grove,” a group of celebrated scholars who lived in the region during the 3rd century. By doing so, he hoped to preserve and promote the region’s rich history and cultural heritage.
Aside from the cultural aspect, Zuo’s team also focused on the village’s population, particularly the elderly and children. They reestablished the village’s old Huaibang Opera troupe, which had been disbanded for over 40 years. The troupe performed with local farmers and renowned musicians and had their songs recorded and published as an album by Modernsky Entertainment, a major record company in China.
Moreover, Zuo’s team collaborated with art and academic institutions to provide local children with a series of art, film, dance, and music lessons. The team also hosted a film festival in the village, screening short films shot entirely by the children. Zuo believes that cultural development is crucial to the village’s growth and appeal, even if it takes time.
Meanwhile, in Shanghai, an organization called Clover Nature School is taking a different approach to enriching public spaces. They are introducing more nature into the metropolis by establishing small gardens and vegetable plots. Liu Yuelai, associate professor of Tongji University and co-founder of the organization, believes that these gardens serve to involve citizens in the creation and management of public spaces.
By providing citizens with the opportunity to plant and care for their own gardens, the Clover Nature School hopes to create a sense of community and encourage people to take pride in their public spaces. They believe that these small steps can have a big impact on the overall well-being and livability of the city.
Returning to the village, Zuo’s team faced some challenges in their efforts to revitalize the area. One obstacle was the lack of funds and resources, which made it difficult to implement their ideas. However, they persevered and sought out partnerships with government agencies and private companies to secure funding and support.
Another challenge was the resistance from some villagers who were skeptical of the team’s efforts. They questioned the value of investing in culture and doubted whether it would bring any tangible benefits to the village. However, Zuo and his team remained committed to their vision and worked hard to win over the skeptics.
Their efforts paid off, and the village began to see positive changes. Tourists started to visit the village, attracted by the new cultural offerings and the restored buildings. The local economy also began to improve, with new businesses and jobs being created in the area.
The success of Zuo’s team and the Clover Nature School highlights the importance of investing in culture and public spaces. By preserving and promoting cultural heritage and creating community spaces that people can take pride in, we can improve the quality of life for everyone. These efforts may take time, but the benefits are well worth the investment.
The current trend in landscape design projects involves creating tiny gardens that are built within a community, in contrast to the conventional large-scale projects that fulfill aesthetic purposes. These gardens invite locals to give their opinions from the initial stages of design and construction, and once the basic construction is complete, adults and children alike take charge of growing and maintaining their own plants. Clover Nature School, an organization in Shanghai, encourages people to choose different types of plants that create a friendly environment for birds and insects.
Liu Yuelai, associate professor of Tongji University and co-founder of the organization, highlights that community gardens are perhaps the only urban public spaces that allow the public to directly participate in the production process. This is because of their small scale, low investment, quick construction and close connection to people’s daily lives. He says that cities in the future should allow people to fully exercise their own agency to create a sustainable community where every citizen can feel at home.
The China Academy of Art’s Research Institute of Beautiful China Initiative was established in 2021 to advocate “Chinese art for a beautiful China.” The institute explores new practices in which art and culture can empower social development from four aspects: cultural creativity, cultural tourism, cultural education, and cultural entertainment. The initiative has conducted many case studies since its establishment and researchers from the institute have conducted interviews with more than 300 artists, scholars, designers, entrepreneurs and practitioners from China’s 34 provincial-level administrative regions.
These artistic, innovative, and sustainable practices are showcased at an exhibition that highlights projects taking place around China since the reform and opening-up started in 1978, particularly in the past decade. The exhibition demonstrates the power of culture in revitalizing communities and empowering social development.
In Zuo’s village, the team focused on restoring the local culture and invited artists to create woodcarvings and animations about the “seven sages of the bamboo grove,” which describes celebrated scholars who lived in the region during the 3rd century. Additionally, Zuo’s team worked with art and academic institutions to provide local children with a series of art, film, dance, and music lessons. A film festival was also hosted in the village, screening short films shot entirely by the children.
The team also reestablished a local troupe that used to perform the local art form Huaibang Opera, which was disbanded more than 40 years ago. Local farmers performed along with renowned musicians, and their songs were recorded and published as an album by Modernsky Entertainment, a major record company in China.
Zuo highlights that it will take time for the village to enrich itself and become more appealing to tourists, but the focus is cultural development. The team decided to believe in the power and value of culture from the beginning. The revitalization of this village demonstrates how cultural initiatives can have a significant impact on the local community and serve as an inspiration for others to follow.
artistic, innovative, and sustainable practices are essential for revitalizing communities and empowering social development. These practices highlight the power of culture in creating sustainable and beautiful environments, allowing people to exercise their agency, and fostering a sense of community ownership. The China Academy of Art’s Research Institute of Beautiful China Initiative is an excellent example of exploring how art and culture can empower social development from various perspectives, which can inspire other institutions and organizations to follow.
Gao, the president of the China Academy of Art, has been contemplating the type of art the academy promotes for years. He believes that art should integrate into people’s daily lives and contribute to social development. Through various projects, Gao has seen substantial changes in art and design, which have helped to vitalize villages and boost the development of regional industries. Moreover, these projects have empowered locals to change their lives for the better.
This year’s exhibition, which follows last year’s Close-up: 100 Moments for a Better China, showcases 100 projects out of more than 300. An online archive has been established for viewers to learn about the projects based on region, category, or features. The exhibition runs through to March 27 and includes a series of forums that invite experts to discuss environmental and ecological issues, folk art rejuvenation, and public art education.
Unlike conventional large-scale landscape design projects that fulfill aesthetic purposes, the tiny gardens established by Clover Nature School are built within communities, inviting locals to give their opinions during the initial stages of design and construction. Once the basic construction is complete, adults and children take charge of growing and maintaining their own plants, and the organization encourages people to choose plants that create a friendly environment for birds and insects. Community gardens are perhaps the only urban public spaces that allow the public to directly participate in the production process, according to Liu, associate professor of Tongji University and co-founder of Clover Nature School.
The team led by Zuo has restored the local culture in the village by revamping old buildings into venues such as an art center, a bookshop, a community center, an exhibition hall, and an outdoor stage. Zuo’s team focused on the elderly and children, establishing a troupe performing the local art form Huaibang Opera, which was disbanded over 40 years ago. The troupe performed along with renowned musicians and had their songs recorded and published as an album by Modernsky Entertainment, a major record company in China. Art and academic institutions also provided local children with a series of art, film, dance, and music lessons, and a film festival was hosted in the village, screening short films shot entirely by the children.
The China Academy of Art’s Research Institute of Beautiful China Initiative advocates “Chinese art for a beautiful China.” Since its establishment in 2021, the institute has conducted many case studies exploring new practices in which art and culture can empower social development from four aspects: cultural creativity, cultural tourism, cultural education, and cultural entertainment. Researchers from the institute have interviewed more than 300 artists, scholars, designers, entrepreneurs, and practitioners from China’s 34 provincial-level administrative regions, gathering textual and video documentation to be included in the institute’s database.
Gao believes that the kind of art promoted by the academy should make a difference in social development and integrate into people’s everyday lives. The exhibition showcases how art and design have undergone substantial changes, empowering locals to have the courage and ability to change their own lives for the better. The online archive of the exhibition provides viewers with the opportunity to learn about the projects based on region, category, or features, and the accompanying forums invite experts to discuss important topics related to environmental and ecological issues, folk art rejuvenation, and public art education.