Artist Ai Weiwei to exhibit at Grand Rapids' Meijer Gardens

by

comment
Ai Weiwei - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Ai Weiwei
Later this month, the work of the internationally renowned artist and vocal Chinese political dissident Ai Weiwei will be featured in a career-spanning exhibition at Grand Rapids' Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Ai Weiwei at Meijer Gardens: Natural State opens to the public on Friday, Jan. 27.

The indoor and outdoor show will feature more than 30 works from throughout the artist's career, including work specific to the Meijer Gardens. According to a press release, it's Ai's first exhibition at a botanical garden or sculpture park.



The work on view includes a mix of sculpture, installations, photographs, ceramics, and wallpaper, among other mediums. An artist and activist, Ai has been a vocal critic of China’s human rights record. In 2011, he was famously arrested and held for 81 days without charge, prompting worldwide protest. Some address his criticism of China head-on — like "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn," a photographic triptych showing the artist destroying a valuable Chinese artifact, or "Free Speech Puzzle," a hand-painted porcelain puzzle in the shape of the country.

“I am looking forward to the exhibition at Meijer Gardens and to share my work and ideas in this unique place,” Ai says in a statement. “This opportunity to bring an exhibition to Michigan is something I greatly anticipate.”



While it's a little odd to see such a vocal anti-establishment artist cozy up to a huge corporation (an earlier work saw Ai cheekily hand-paint a Coca-Cola logo on another valuable Han Dynasty urn — later destroyed by a collector in a parody of "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn"), it's not the first time the artist's work has been on display at the sculpture park. In 2015, Meijer Gardens acquired Ai Weiwei's "Iron Tree" for the park's 20th anniversary.

The exhibition runs until Aug. 20, 2017. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is located at 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids; 616-957-1580; meijergardens.org; tickets are $14.50.

Photos of the installation are below:

"Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn," 2016 - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • "Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn," 2016
"Shuyu," 2015 - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • "Shuyu," 2015
"Free Speech Puzzle," 2015 - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • "Free Speech Puzzle," 2015
"Oil Spills," 2006 - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • "Oil Spills," 2006
Iron Tree - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • Iron Tree

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.