Friday, April 19, 2024
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From limitations to masterpieces

GUIYANG, CHINA (XINHUA) – Ling Runzhi, 41, confined to a wheelchair ever since she was six years old, is listening to an online class on modern Chinese landscape painting with rapt attention as usual.

With a few deft strokes of her paintbrush, Ling skillfully brings to life a black-and-white masterpiece, adorned with delicate textures and captivating contrasts. Despite the loss of sensation in her lower body, resulting from congenital spina bifida, this talented artist refuses to let her physical limitations hinder her creativity.

Ling’s remarkable artworks not only fulfilled her own dreams but also offered a window to a broader world for others like her. Through her art, she unlocks the possibility of experiencing the beauty and wonders of the world beyond their confined realities.

“There was once a dark phase in my life. My parents were busy with farmwork and my sisters were at school, so I had to stay at home by myself. Constant loneliness and fear were my only companion,” recalled Ling, who hails from Bianshan Village of Guiyang, the capital city of southwest China’s Guizhou Province.

During that time, lacking access to a wheelchair, Ling resorted to sitting on a simple wooden upright chair at home. To manoeuver, she would painstakingly edge the chair forward which often resulted in her hands and legs getting scraped and bruised.

ABOVE & BELOW: Ling Runzhi paints at her residence in Guiyang, southwest China’s Guizhou Province; and one of Ling Runzhi’s paintings. PHOTO: XINHUA
PHOTO: XINHUA

Guided by her supportive sister, Ling embarked on a journey of literacy as she learned to read characters. Her sister also thoughtfully purchased a collection of ancient Chinese women’s paintings, which served as a wellspring of inspiration for Ling. “I started to replicate the paintings myself. Books and the world of paintings soon dispelled my gloom,” Ling said.

In 2003, captivated by the intricate and exquisite patterns of embroidery, a signature craft in Guizhou, Ling began to explore the art of conveying traditional elements of Chinese landscape paintings through the medium of stitchwork.

With a keen eye for detail, Ling delved into the techniques of presenting elements such as flowers, birds, insects, and fish in her needlework, adding a unique and enchanting dimension to her artistic repertoire.

She later went on to hone her skills by participating in several competitions for the handicapped in Guiyang, winning over 40 awards. The growing recognition of Ling’s artworks has not only bolstered her confidence but also brought a renewed sense of hope and joy to her life.

During her pursuit of a deeper understanding of modern Chinese landscape paintings, Ling came to know Fang Guocheng, a painter from Heilongjiang Province in northeast China, who, like her, was paralysed following a car accident.

“Through meaningful online interactions, I established profound connections with more and more people who faced similar situation. As I freely shared my own learnings and experiences with these people, I embarked on a remarkable journey of mutual enrichment,” she said.

Since then, Ling decided to create more paintings and embroidery works that would capture the vibrancy and beauty of the world beyond for people who find themselves trapped in adversity, particularly those who, like her, are paralysed.

“After my embroidery and paintings were exhibited in Guiyang, many people with disabilities began to know about my personal experience, which inspired them to take up art and enrich their own lives through traditional handicrafts,” Ling said.

Her profound love and unwavering passion for artistic expression have instilled within her a new dream of setting up her own studio. Through this endeavour, Ling aspires to cultivate an increased interest in Chinese traditional culture and foster the inheritance of valuable cultural heritages.

Adorning Ling’s window ledge is a flourishing green copper coin grass, nurtured in a swan-like flowerpot meticulously carved by Ling herself from a humble plastic box. The grass serves as a reminder of the resilient and unwavering strength inherent in the very essence of life.

“Every single plant and its growth represent the power and hope in our life. As long as we live, we must strive to grow like plants, which will surely lead to favourable turns someday,” Ling said.

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