Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist

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Modern Art in a Naxi Village


Lijiang Studio is an artists residency and much more. Their projects have a connection with local village residents, from the family that cooks meals and shares living quarters, to the artwork produced by international & Chinese artists.

I visited the studio today to talk to Lisa Li about the mural projects she’s been coordinating there. Just in time – tomorrow she’s headed up to Kunming to work on a book documenting the Lijiang Studio murals.

Here’s the first thing you see as you walk in the gate: a giant green phallic symbol out of X-tra large beer bottles.

The painting studio, lit by skylights from the upper floor. See the glass ceiling above the paintings?

Decorative pool w/sculpture

An installation of chillies next to the kitchen. Studio residents just pluck them out from the glass panels and use them as necessary.

Wood-burning stove in the office to keep warm during cold winters

Lijiang Old Town is saturated with millions of tourists a year; in the evenings, local culture is portrayed in caricature, with restaurant workers calling for tourists along Lijiang’s “Pub Street”, while wearing polyester versions of traditional clothes. [It makes Siem Reap/Angkor Wat look calm by comparison.]

Sculpture at the studio

Nice doorway to the communal toilets

Detail of traditional Naxi roof

Carved wooden doors to the kitchen, the bats are for good luck

The office w/glass floor. Adds light and space.

Gateway to the cornfields

Entrance gate

Art in concrete

Mural around the corner from the studio

Another mural, done by a talented Chinese artist

A visit to Lijiang Studio: a great way to get a feel for the countryside surrounding Lijiang town, and a chance to see some experimental art too.

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