Road Trip: An Ai Weiwei Tree Grows in Michigan
News from China is often front and center to many Americans these days, but in the art world in particular, much attention has focused in recent years on the career and political plight of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who has been living and working in Beijing under government restrictions since 1993. A prolific artist, architect, author and activist, Weiwei is a vocal critic of China’s record on democracy and human rights. In 2011 he was arrested and held for 81 days without charge, prompting worldwide official and public protest.
This summer Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, MI, one of the world’s most significant botanic and sculpture experiences, consisting of 159-acre grounds and a permanent collection including works by Rodin, Oldenburg, Moore, Serra, Bourgeois and Plensa, unveils the acquisition and permanent siting of a major work by Weiwei. The large-scale Iron Tree is the artist’s largest and most complex outdoor sculpture to date, measuring more than 22 feet tall and 22 feet wide and composed of 99 unique iron pieces cast from individual tree elements from southern China.
The garden celebrates 20 years in 2015.