China Peace, the Tiananmen Sq. Memorial                             bronzeheight: 20"/49 cm

China Peace,

commissioned to help get the word into China about what really happened during the terrible events of June, 1989. Copies of the bronze sculpture were also awarded as diplomatic gifts to:
  • Li Lu, deputy leader of the Chinese Pro Democracy movement of Tiananmen Square, listed on the Chinese government's "most wanted" list, 1989
  • Vaclev Havel, President of the Czech Republic, 1990
  • Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, 1990

Corretta Scott King receives the prize

Corretta Scott King receives the China Peace from  Li Lu.

DC presentation

Li Lu, deputy leader of the Chinese democracy uprising receives the sculpture China Peace.

The China Peace story

A week after the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing in June, 1989, a group of the escaped Chinese dissidents joined Chinese students who were studying in the US at the time and formed an organization in Boston called the China Information Center.  Their purpose was to try to get the word back into China about what had really happened at Tiananmen Square since the Chinese government, humiliated by the successes of the democracy movement, was covering up the event.

Having heard that I do this kind of work, they called me to help them raise money through creating an artwork to commemorate the event.  The money that was raised by the sale of the sculpture, “China Peace” was used to fund a drive to subvert the government censors and get the truth to the Chinese people.  It was done by taking a narrative of the event, complete with photos of the massacre, and faxing it to random numbers throughout China.  Over the next weeks the real news of the event spontaneously erupted from fax machines all over China.  It became known as the “first fax revolution in history”.

The Chinese government's attempt to kill the grass-roots democracy movement– shared by a wide swath of the population, not just students– only works for the short term.  We have all watched with amazement as China's economy has exploded.  Much of the reason for this sudden turn away from communist economic models is due to the leadership's need to ease the danger of a broad longing for freedom.  Their choice is brilliant: by diverting attention away from human rights toward personal consumption afforded by new capitalist opportunities, the masses are placated.  For a time.

I feel incredibly honored to have been able to participate in such an earth-shaking milestone in Chinese history.  May we all be vigilant for decoys to real human freedoms!

Freedom Comes Not Easy

When the tanks rumbled through Tiananmen Square in June 1989, it wasn't just the dissident students who suffered. It wasn't only the Chinese people who suffered. We all joined hearts in the Chinese students' movement for freedom. So a week later when I was asked to create a sculpture to celebrate the essence of the freedom movement, I strove to express a personal struggle as well as a global one.

I based my design on the Chinese characters of the ts'ao-shu, or "grass" calligraphy style which, being a loose, spontaneous style, expressed the lust for freedom most gracefully. This style guided me in projecting a three dimensional form from the two dimensions of the written symbols.

From the front one can make out the characters for peace, which reflect the Chinese dissidents' absolute devotion to non-violent resistance. From the side, these same characters become a leaping figure, expressing the Chinese quest for liberty within the context of the desire of all living beings to breathe free.

The Tank Man

In two minutes one anonymous man changes history with one unbelievable act of courage.         
 Watch the video of this moment

Tank Man, a Frontline documentary, puts this moment in context.

China Peace, viewed from the front, forms the Chinese characters for "peace".  When veiwed from the side one sees a leaping figure, symbolizing the non-violent intent of the Chinese democracy movement.

DC presentation
Presentation at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC

Czech Pres. Vaclav Havel with "China Peace"

Timeless art for troubled times

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