I talk about my mom a lot in videos and on social media.
Her name is Xiang Li, one of the last master artists trained at the Forbidden City of Beijing, China, by many of the master artists before her who have passed on.
When I was little, I loved visiting them with my mom and hearing their stories of how they became the best of the best in painting specific things, such as landscapes, people, animals. It’s even more specific than that. For instance, I would meet an artist who specialized in painting children figures, and my mom would spend time with him to learn all the intricacies for doing that.
Today I live in a fairly big house with my mom in central Massachusetts. Our walls are covered with silk panels and paintings. Many of them are unframed, easily reachable – we often invite our guests to touch the materials and explain to them how they are done. That’s a VIP experience. For now, you can watch Xiang Li Art’s Instagram Reels here to get a flavor of what she does up close and personal.
So what exactly is making me anxious?!
It sounds silly but I’ve embodied mom’s mastery for nearly 40 years now. I can’t do what she does, but I learned to appreciate her skills so much over the years. Now that I’m older and without children, I’ve felt a sense of urgency to preserve and protect her work beyond our lifetime.
I turned to Trust and Will to protect our financials (the process is really easy and you can complete the paperwork in 20 mins), but it’s not straightforward to protect physical items that don’t have clear valuations yet, and many of her artworks are still in progress.
In short, I’ll continue to research, learn and even speak with experts, museum curators, but I needed a way beyond just trying to protect her physical work.
A recent realization helped me understand the true value of her work.
In a short few months since we’ve been sharing her work consistently on Instagram, creating apparels and goods with her artworks, my mom has received messages from retirees on how they want to start art lessons because of her; young artists who are ready to call it quits now have regained their sense of having a career in arts.
My mom and I sat down recently. She never had the expectation that her work must live on for hundreds of thousands of years, and the physical paintings shouldn’t be a burden for me. She does it because the process of creating them makes her happy. When she’s gone, she said: “I want you to look around the house and realize this is the indescribable love I will always have for you.”
For that, and for the hundreds and thousands of people who have been touched by mom’s artworks, we both think it’ll be enough.
Check out Xiang Li Art’s Chinese Empresses Collection (120 ancient empreses from different dynasties, work in progress), let’s start with the Han Dynasty, one of my favorites from Chinese history: https://www.xiangliart.com/han-empresses
Check out Feisworld heroes and documentary guests painted by Xiang Li, on 100% silk panels, each took months to complete: https://www.xiangliart.com/feisworld-portraits
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