Thu, Nov 14, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Kaohsiung provides artists opportunities

RISING ARTISTS:The “Intention Product” program has helped train city artists with disabilities to manage and operate their own stores, while promoting local crafts

By Huang Chien-hua and Dennis Xie  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Yu-Chen carves a custom design on a stone in Kaohsiung in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of the Kaohsiung City Government Labor Affairs Bureau

The Kaohsiung City Government is helping talented designers with disabilities open their own shops and sell their unique, high-quality arts and crafts, a city official said on Thursday last week.

“We hope to help promote the one-of-a-kind, exceptional art works of these aspiring artists to the public,” Kaohsiung Labor Affairs Bureau Director-General Wang Chiu-Tung (王秋冬) said of its “Intention Product” marketing program.

After a candidate-selection process, the program includes training sessions on craftsmanship and marketing strategies, he said.

The bureau cited stone sculptor nicknamed Yu-chen (玉珍) as one of the successful graduates of the program.

She pursued a career in stone sculpture after she was forced to quit her job as a kindergarten art teacher due to hearing loss, bureau officials said.

Yu-chen harnessed her artistic background to set up as a vendor on the popular Avenue of Citizens’ Art at the Kaohsiung Cultural Center, hosted by the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, the officials said.

Though her work was initially popular with customers, her sales were hindered by her impaired hearing and the competitive pricing among the vendors, they said, adding that this led her to seek out the bureau’s program.

When Yu-chen first enrolled in the program, she often kept her head down and rarely spoke with the other participants, bureau officials said.

During a marketing activity in which trainees were tasked with establishing a shop at Kaohsiung Port Warehouse No. 2 and then taking turns running the business, Yu-chen did not participate out of fear that her hearing loss would impede her ability to communicate with customers, they said.

With the support of her family and counselors in the program, Yu-chen was able to overcome her fears and collaborated with other trainees to operate the shop for six months, the officials said.

During that period, she took on a range of responsibilities, including naming the storefront, arranging its layout, displaying merchandise, managing shift rotation and handling the bookkeeping, they added.

Yu-chen accumulated practical experience bit by bit, and some of her artwork topped the shop’s monthly sales, the officials said.

Reflecting on her experience in the project, Yu-chen said she was grateful that the bureau offered an occupational program geared toward artists.

She has since opened her own workshop, named “Stones Come, Opportunities Rise,” and said that she hopes her sculpture art can help people struggling through their own difficulties in life and in navigating new opportunities, the officials said.

Many stone art collectors have given positive reviews of Yu-chen’s work, which consists of stone materials on which she engraves corresponding words or illustrations to match the natural patterns of the stones, they said.

Decorated with words such as “perseverance,” “well roundedness,” “nothingness,” or illustrations of flowers and totems, Yu-shen’s stone sculptures always touch customers’ hearts both aesthetically and emotionally, the officials said.

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