Compassion and Xu Bing’s Phoenix

This found-object phoenix was created out of compassion.

It’s for that reason that I’d like to feature it here on Art In Love.

Chinese artist Xu Bing was not interested in a public commission for a corporate skyscraper in Shanghai. In spite of his lack of interest, he visited the construction site of the proposed art installment. Bing was immensely moved, not by the impressive structure in progress, but by the migrant workers he saw there. Workers struggling to survive in incredibly harsh and dirty conditions, working to build a monument to progress and success.

He expressed his admiration for these workers by elevating the objects they had used and left behind, shovels, helmets, scraps of metal and transforming them into a thing of beauty and power.

As people of faith, Liz and I believe art-making should be an expression of identity, not an identity itself. Many artists feel that if they were to cease making art, they would cease to exist. And we understand that feeling completely. However, we all at some point go through a dry spell, stop making art for a time and still manage to exist. Our identity, we believe, should be found in being “children of God,” something that is not earned and cannot be lost. From that foundation art making, writing, our gifts and talents will all be expressions of who we are.

Sorry, vimeo won’t let me embed this particular video, but you can watch it here.

Here is another video of the work being assembled at Mass MoCA.

(This monumental work was circling the blogosphere this past summer, namely on JunkCulture (where I first saw it) and later on ThisIsCollossal.)

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