Dr. Hongdi Liu’s artwork
Harmony of nature and science
By Ben Patterson
A recent exhibit at the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union showcased the artwork of Dr. Hongdi Liu. A
UW-Madison agronomy professor, Liu provided multiple works from his collection for viewing as a part of the
Wisconsin Union Galleries exhibition.
Liu’s work is largely inspired by his professional and life experiences. Liu grew up in Beijing, China during
the Cultural Revolution that started in the late 1960s. As a result of the changes that occurred in China during
this time, Liu was forced to work in a labor camp at the age of 16. In the labor camp, Liu endured many
hardships, which would later inspire his artwork.
The forests of YunNan province, where Liu worked at a labor camp, aroused his interest in art and the beauty
of nature. Art, for Liu, was an escape from the hardships he had to endure while living in the labor camps. Liu
would later come to the United States and find his real inspiration for art in a blending of science and nature.
“Although science is my career, art is my true love,” Liu says.
Liu’s work showcases the relationship that exists between nature and the sciences. Many of his art works
explore the intricacies that are often taken for granted in nature but are prominent within the sciences. His
artwork simultaneously showcasse an element of nature at a holistic level, but also on a microscopic, scientific
level as well.
Take Liu’s work, “Pride,” for example. The rooster is symbolic of one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac
and is known to represent the idea of pride. The work itself focuses around two elements. First, the background is
rather blurry and undefined in order to showcase the prominence of the prideful rooster. The second element,
the rooster, has a sharp beak and talons, but the rest of the work seems to be soft and sweeping. This work
incorporates Liu’s history from China, as well as his appreciation of nature and the animals within it.
Similarly, take Liu’s work “Spirit.” This work depicts a women relaxing and enjoying the company of a few
birds, but subtly suggests another element as well. The piece works around a cell-like pattern, similar to organic
cell structuring. His collective work incorporates the beauty of nature while also acknowledging the deeper and
more scientific attributes that collectively form to give us the beauty of nature.
Liu’s work was on exhibit at the Lakefront on Langdon Gallery. In addition to Liu’s work, there are other
exhibitions on display. There will be new exhibitions beginning January 30th and continuing on until mid- May.
(Above) “Peace praying”; (below) “Spirit”;
(bottom center) Warrior