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2019 Arkansas Living Treasure: Longhua Xu

Arkansas Arts Council - Friday, February 08, 2019

 

Image 8: Weaving, oak wood, 11” x 6”, 2.5”, (1984,) by Xu

We are pleased to announce Longhua Xu, of Hot Springs, as this year’s Arkansas Living Treasure!

“Xu has dedicated his life to refining his art and is a wonderful addition to our Living Treasure program,” said Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage. “Xu is a talented sculptor, painter and teacher who has been instrumental in perpetuating and developing art and artists in Hot Springs and throughout the state. Arkansas’s creative legacy is indeed richer due to Xu’s many contributions.”

The Arkansas Living Treasure program annually recognizes an Arkansas artist who excels in the creation of a traditional craft and who preserves and advances his or her craft through community outreach and by teaching others. Xu will be honored during a May ceremony.

“I’m glad to share knowledge with the people and to keep art alive,” Xu said.

An independent panel chose Xu as this year’s Living Treasure based on his wood carvings. The panel picked Xu based on his quality of work, contributions to traditional crafts fields and efforts in community.

Xu has studied and practiced art all of his life. He emigrated from China to the U.S. in 1989 and settled in Hot Springs in 1990. He has taught in prestigious schools worldwide and in the U.S. When he moved to Arkansas, Xu taught at Henderson State University and at a local community college. He retired from higher education instruction in 2001 but continues to teach talented students in his private studio.

Xu has advocated for arts education and individual Arkansas artists for nearly 30 years. In 1990, he and his wife published “A Gathering of Artists: Hot Springs — Arkansas, Volume 1,” a book that featured 13 artists’ works and raised public awareness of the artists in Hot Springs. He meets regularly with other artists to share his knowledge of arts.

Xu’s artwork also includes public art. He was commissioned in 1992 to produce “Mother Nature,” a sculpture that stands outside the historic Arlington Hotel. His art is in parks, schools, hospitals and private collections statewide.

Xu said he loves to blend artistic techniques and mediums to more fully express his artistic vision. As a young artist, he was classically trained in Eastern and Western woodcarving and blended those techniques to create his own style. He said he wants to use different mediums to capture something new in his work.

Xu’s techniques include everything from stone carving to painting. Last year, he exhibited paintings to spotlight the ethnic and cultural diversity of Arkansans via his own perspective. “The Soul of Arkansas,” which included 40 paintings, opened this past August at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

“It took much courage for Longhua to make the move from China, where he was well established as an artist and teacher," wrote JoAnn Mangione, who nominated Xu. "Here, he and his family started a new life from scratch, overcoming cultural differences and language barriers to blend their traditions with the very different ones of the South. His talent and creativity have added a new dimension to the culture of our community.”

Xu said his work is inspired by the people of Hot Springs. “I’ve been moved by the people because they love each other,” he said.

He said he wants to capture and reflect the loving environment through his artworks. That includes sculptures and paintings of children and animals, mothers and children and Arkansans celebrating together.

“To me, art comes from life,” Xu said.