Public Art at Williams

Public Art at Williams

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    Taichi, 1985
    Ju Ming (Chinese, b. 1938)
    Extended loan, collection of the artist, Courtesy of Tsong-zung Chang, Class of 1973, Hanart T Z Gallery, Hong Kong
    Photo by Megan Cross

    On extended loan from Tsong-Zung Chang ’73, a curator and contemporary art dealer in Hong Kong, the two Ju Ming tai chi sculptures from 1985 on the Williams campus are already much admired and beloved by students and faculty.

    A leading contemporary Chinese sculptor, Ju Ming began creating his monumental tai chi figures in 1975. Initially trained as a traditional woodcarver, Ju Ming forms sculptural works from materials as varied as bronze, styrofoam, and stainless steel.

    When the artist began to practice tai chi himself to develop physical and mental discipline, it infused his sculptural work. He remarks, “The form of taichi has something to do with the sculptural form that results, but the most important issue is the character of taichi, which involves both activity and quietude…. Both taichi and my sculpture are about releasing inner forces.”

    Tai chi represents the union of mind, body, and nature. In a setting that is a crossroads between the splendor of the Berkshire hills, the comfort of residence halls, and the intellectual core of campus, the sculptures by Ju Ming could not be more at home.  Ju Ming feels his sculptures “are happiest in an open landscape….the work is different in different seasons. In a natural setting it continues to offer something new.”

    Whether or not one knows the titles or sees the works as literal representations of martial arts movements, they display obvious grace. Though constructed out of bronze, they evoke the power of stone. They seem as graceful as the trees that encircle them and as timeless as the mountains that form their dramatic backdrop.