As the artistic director of an upcoming exhibition in Greater Taichung, Lee Liang-jen (李良仁) hopes to plant seeds of creativity in the minds of the younger generation by erecting brightly colored, larger-than-life insect and animal statues.
From a 6m high replica of a rhinoceros beetle, to a giant statue featuring a cockroach about to be stepped on by a pair of blue-and-white slippers, Lee is the behind-the-scenes hero who has brought into being the much-anticipated “Wonderland of Animals and Insects of Taiwan” exhibition, to open on Children’s Day today in Greater Taichung’s Wenhsin Forest Park (文心森林公園).
In an effort to transform the exhibition, which cost nearly NT$10 million (US$345,000), into a symbolic mixture of nature and art, Lee brought together hundreds of talented carpenters, blacksmiths and artistic designers to let the natural beauty of insects, animals and marine species unfold before visitors in the form of art.
“We are doing that which we thought we could not do, and by doing so, we are also emulating the spirit of Don Quixote in pursuing dreams,” Lee said.
Lee, a graduate of the Sculpture Department at National Taiwan University of Arts, has put his ideas into practice by founding Rich Art & Culture Co and initiating the Paper Windmill 319 and 368 Children’s Art Projects.
The 319 Project was a five-year tour that brought entertainment and theatrical performances to the nation’s 319 townships, cities and districts, while Project 368 was a similar scheme that seeks to bring theater to children in 368 rural areas across the nation over a seven-year span.
Lee was also the creator of the public art installation outside National Taiwan University Children’s Hospital in Taipei City, whose vibrant colors challenge the stereotype that hospitals are gloomy and dreary.
Speaking about the insect exhibition that he said features interactive activities and afforded children a chance to experience art, Lee said that while its amusing atmosphere could be the main draw, the replicas’ vivid colors and creative structures could also make a positive impact on young visitors without them being aware of it.
“What we are trying to do is plant seeds of creativity that could teach people to see things from a different perspective, bring their creativity into full play and keep on dreaming,” Lee said. “Even if these seeds only grow in the minds of some, our endeavors would be worthwhile.”
Like his younger brother, Paper Windmill Cultural Foundation chief executive officer Lee Yung-feng (李永豐), Lee Liang-jen refuses to give in to challenges.
“The Paper Windmill team is trying to prove to the world that Taiwanese, if given the chance, can organize remarkable exhibitions,” Lee Liang-jen said.