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Taiwanese scholar takes new tack on public art

Taiwanese scholar takes new tack on public art

Taipei, July 18 (CNA) From Green Island to Taipei, many cities and towns in Taiwan feature works of art in public places to alter the mood of their communities. Though most may not rank as masterpieces, Taiwanese scholar Lin Chih-ming has decided to tell their stories, using a novel approach.
Rather than focusing on the works' themselves, Lin decided to zero in on the stories behind 15 of these public installations and recently published a book chronicling his findings, showing how for many artists or communities the artworks have an emotional attachment.
"This is only the beginning of a series of books I am planning to publish in the hope of promoting the beauty of Taiwan, " Lin, the president of the Educational Development Association for Public Art, told the Central News Agency on Sunday.
One of the 15 public works featured in Lin's book is a playground slide set called the "Green Island Elephant, " which originally was a fixture on an elementary school playground on the island for about 23 years.
The slide was then put up for auction on the Taitung County government's website in 2009. It was bought by young Taitung native Lee Meng-fa for NT$100 and then transformed into a public work of art, Lin discovered.
Lee worked with students of Taitung Gungguan Primary School to paint the slide and give it a new face, turning it into public art and one of the island's main landmarks, said Lin, who is also an associate professor at National United University.
With the help of a government subsidy, Lee recorded the whole process and asked the students what the elephant meant to them.
"I hope the elephant will take me on a train trip, " some answered, while others hoped for "the elephant to take me to travel the world." Their responses made clear to Lee the strong desire of the students to see the outside world, so his next step was to make their dreams come true at the beginning of this year and take them on trips to Tainan and Kaohsiung.
More stories emerged during their trips, and the elephant and students became ambassadors of the county, Lin recalled.
Another story in the book describes a public artwork called "Bigpow" designed by artist Akibo Lee. The robot-like figure catches the eyes of children whenever they pass by it in a park near the Zhongshan MRT station in Taipei City.
The work had a cathartic effect on the artist and the ups and downs he has experienced in his career and marriage, because the process of creating the story of a cartoon or sculpture of a robotic figure became a bridge between him and his two sons.
"'Bigpow' means big power. The idea came at the suggestion of Lee's children. Lee designed the works according to the preferences of his children, which successfully caught their attention right away," Lin said.
"Through these stories, public artwork will no longer seem like cold statues but will actually convey emotion," the author stressed.
(By Sunnie Chen)




Updated : 2021-03-04 20:48 GMT+08:00