By SARAH JOHNSON
For the month of April, a remarkable woman will be displaying her art at the Plainville Public Library. A variety of Chinese watercolor and ink, standard watercolors and paper cutting will be shown.
Manli Luo of Plainville has lived in the United States since 1999. Before that, she lived in Shanghai and Kunming, China. The latter being her more rural, culturally different hometown.
“In China, I taught art,” Manli said. “I taught many different styles so instruction was never boring for my students. I always tried very hard to use my knowledge so that art was interesting.”
Upon moving to the U.S., Manli had to dedicate more time, closer to home taking care of her husband, who is older and suffering from some health issues. She took on Chinese language lessons and art instruction as much as she could, but things were still not where she wanted.
“Language programs slowed down so I went to work in a factory,” Manli said. “After awhile, I injured my hand and shoulder and had to take time away from my art. Before I got hurt, I was interested in having my art at the library but I had to wait. Art helped me come out of the depression I felt from being injured.”
One piece that Manli is currently working on is a large painting depicting a woman coming from the sky, spreading out waves, fish and birds from a body of water to reveal her unrequited lover. This comes from a piece of Chinese folklore that was popular in Manli’s hometown. Locals base the legend on actual cloud and wind formations that happen over lakes, and there is reportedly some truth to the lovers kept apart by warring families. In Kunming, the style of dress, dialect of language, music and even food vary from that of the more modern Shanghai. Manli even traveled to the lakes where love stories like this are based. There are still farmers living in these rural villages who are kept apart by duty and families. “Love there is like a folk song,” Manli said. “Just thinking of it is beautiful and makes me want to paint.”
Manli hopes her art can eventually support her living. “I’m not really a good housewife,” she said, laughing. “I’m a good cook but it’s hard for me to hold down my heart. It always wants to fly and follow the clouds. It has lead to me to want to always discover something new and beautiful.”
Manli Luo will have around 30 pieces displayed at the library through April. There will be a reception on April 13 where she will demonstrate some of her art techniques.