The drab streets of Shijiazhuang are looking a lot livelier these days thanks to 23-year-old Wang Yue (above), an art student at Dalian Polytechnic University. With just a little paint and a whole lot of talent, Wang has conjured up a charming world of wildlife and still life peering out from the hollows, cracks and scars of street-side trees.
Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, is a newly industrialized city of just over 10 million known mainly for having “some of the worst air pollution in the world.” The area's pervasive smog chokes the life from urban plantings while depressing the moods of the people who walk among them daily.
“I just thought the trees look miserable in the gray winter, leafless and colorless,” explained Wang in a recent interview with Anhui TV. “Why don't I give them some color and make them more beautiful?” She did and they are, adding scattered splashes of color to Shijiazhuang's urban landscape.
One concentration of Wang's artwork is located near the No. Nine Middle School where trees poke individually through cobblestoned sidewalks, struggling for life mere feet from the paved roadway.
As the senior student of Visual Communication was searching for a topic for her graduation project, “touching up” these and other trees would serve both herself and the city to mutual best advantage.
One does not simply paint city-owned trees without asking first, of course, and Wang duly received permission from her professor, her parents, and the Chengguan (urban management personnel) who keep order on Shijiazhuang's streets, she set out with palette and brushes on a one-woman mission to paint the town red... and white, green, blue, etc.
Before loading up a single brush she consulted with the Shijiangzhuang Bureau of Landscape and Forestry to ensure the paints wouldn't harm the trees. Once she got started, people began to notice both the paintings and the painter to the point where Wang and her art have become a social media and TV sensation in China.
Wang's art project began early this year and is expected to wrap up in March. To date she has finished eight paintings with a few more planned before the next school semester begins. As for her paintings, due to the need to protect the trees it's likely summer rains will fade and eventually wash away her artworks. That's OK with Wang, however.
“However long they might last,” she says, “so long as they have once been there, their beauty, though short-lived, will last forever.” (via SINO-US and YK-Canma)