Hung Liu, Working Women: Millstone, 1999, Color softground and spitbite aquatint etching with scrape and burnish, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2007. 9.2, Purchased through the Art Resource Trust © Hung Liu

Hung Liu, Working Women: Millstone, 1999, Color softground and spitbite aquatint etching with scrape and burnish, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2007. 9.2, Purchased through the Art Resource Trust © Hung Liu

Taxdal Gallery

January 11 - April 16, 2017

Hung Liu was born in Changchun, China in 1948. She grew up in Beijing during the time Chairman Mao and the People’s Republic of China. During the Cultural Revolution, she was assigned to work with peasant farmers who became the subject for many of her early photographs and drawings. Liu eventually enrolled at the Revolutionary Entertainment Department of Beijing's Teachers College to study art and education. After graduating in 1975 she began teaching art at an elite Beijing school, Jing Shan, but later attended the Central Academy of Fine Arts where she majored in mural painting. In 1980 she began studies in the visual arts program at the University of California, San Diego.

This particular print references the pivotal, yet often overlooked, role women played in traditional Chinese culture. It is one of several tributes by Liu to the manual labor performed by women throughout China’s history, but especially during the Cultural Revolution. She chose the mundane act of milling and left the laborers anonymous in order to emphasize the universality of the scene. One of Liu’s primary intentions behind works such as Working Women: Millstone is to explore the conflicts between personal and national identity.