Spotlight’s on Lu Xu’s Living Sculpture!



In 1950, at the eve of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, Liang Sicheng, the nation’s leading architect, proposed to Mao a plan for the new Beijing city, which divided it into three function-orientated districts and located the central government west to the old Beijing city. The plan prioritized the city’s efficiency, allowed future expansion, and would protect the old Beijing city, one of the rarest and most precious architectural heritage sites in the world. Mao disregarded the proposal and insisted on locating the central government at the center of the old Beijing City near Forbidden City, destroying most of the “old” walls and gate towers that surrounded the city to welcome a new rising communist country. Liang howled with tears at an ancient tower before it was taken down, “in 50 years, the city’s layout won’t adjust to its population and traffic. The pollution will culminate and the people will gradually lose their sense of history.” Unfortunately, his prophecy has come true. This sculpture recalls this history in an encouraging way. It incorporates line drawings in the air and a native forest that is surrounded by a fence that outlines the old Beijing city. This forest adopted a method called the Miyawaki Method, introduced to restore indigenous ecosystem. It produces a rich, dense, and efficient protective native forest in 20 to 30 years, where natural succession would need 200 to 500 years. As compared to conventional reforestation, the Miyawaki Method forest is 30 times higher in bio-diversity, CO2 absorption, and water retention. Lu Xu is in collaboration with Urban Natural Forests, Ltd. to realize the forest.


Liang’s Tears

Steel, dirt, compost, hay, virgin’s bower, meadow, bush honeysuckle, meadowsweet, steeplebush, prairie rose, ninebark, highbush cranberry, red osier dogwood, american elderberry, mountain ash, winterberry, wild plum, chokecherry, june berry, common juniper, white cedar, balsam fir, speckled alder, paper birch, tamarac, silver maple, large toothed aspen, red cedar, red maple, red pine, yellow birch, white pine, northern red oak, boxelder
13’ 4” x 33’ 3” x 37’ 4”

Tell me about your project at FSP:

LX: I made a living sculpture that incorporated a native forest and line drawings in the air, recalling a history of the renewing the Old Beijing city in 1950’s and asking questions of where we are and what we can do today in relationship to ecological systems, with the complicated political, social fabric in mind.

Why did you propose this project for FSP?

LX: FSP is an imaginary land; the possible and impossible can happen here. As a new adventure in my practice, I wanted to incorporate a tiny forest in the context of cultural topics that I was deeply intrigued by in a sculpture at a climate challenging time.

Lu was an FSP Intern Artist in 2012 when she created this sculpture Signs of Life.

How does your project relate to your previous work?

LX: My previous works are mostly sculptural objects and performances. Outdoor public sculpture is still relatively new to me (with the exception of one previous public sculpture). My works have shifted from autobiography to more
social-psychological related; relationships between human intentions and the transformation of the landscape.

What did the experience of working here offer you?

LX: Working outdoors and the physical labor were the most rewarding. I’ve found in myself the sense of belonging to this mode of working. The whole experience is rather poetic and novelty to me.


How did your time at Franconia compare to other residencies?

LX: It’s one of a kind!

Where and with whom did you study?

LX:  I went to UNCG and studied with George Dimock, Sheryl Oring, Lee Walton, Chris Cassidy, and Nikki Blair.

What did you learn at FSP? // What was your biggest challenge?

LX: I learned a lot at FSP- most notably, organizing the beginning, middle and end of a large, complicated project and how to work with all of the people who helped me successfully complete this project . My biggest challenge was to make sure every part of the project goes in at the right time and to accept that the work could adjust during the process.


The native forest is an essential part of the sculpture, which adopts a revolutionary method, the Miyawiki Method: within 1,000 square feet, approximately 6 car parking spaces, it planted  300 native trees. This forest will grow 10 times faster and have 30 times the density, water retention, and bio-diversity compared to conventional reforestation methods. To find out how you can give assistance in maintaining and nurturing this living sculpture please click here!


To see more of Lu’s work check out her website!

Subscribe to Franconia’s blog and never miss out on a FSP Spotlight interview. Check out earlier 2016 Spotlight installments: Jess Hirsch, Ian Jones, and David B. Smith! We will be featuring all of our 2016 Fellowship Artists throughout the winter, so stay tuned.




  1. […] You can experience Ellie Murphy’s Little Women any day of the year during daylight hours. Come style and/or detangle the fibrous hair of the March sisters as you walk through this sculpture! To read previous installments of the 2016 Franconia Fellows click the artist’s name you wish spotlight: Jess Hirsch, Ian Jones, David B. Smith, Lu Xu. […]

  2. […] out on a FSP Spotlight interview. Check out earlier 2016 Spotlight installments: Ellie Murphy, Lu Xu, David Smith, Jess Hirsch, Ian Jones, and David B. Smith! We will be featuring all of our 2016 […]

  3. […] Check out earlier 2016 Spotlight installments: Shanice Jackson,  Zoran Mojsilov, Ellie Murphy, Lu Xu, David Smith, Jess Hirsch, Ian Jones, and David B. Smith! We will be featuring all of our 2016 […]

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