Huanyuan grew up in a cultural community where blending in was a common strategy for trying to guarantee a safer life. Now, through her art, Huanyuan wants to inspire more self-expression and conversations.
Huanyuan Li is a mother, student, and first-generation Asian immigrant who cares about feminism and Asian community. Huanyuan is pursuing her BFA at the University of Michigan’s Stamps School of Art and Design, where art has been a venue for her to form her own individual and critical thoughts and rethink authenticity and value. Huanyuan grew up in a cultural community where blending in was a common strategy for trying to guarantee a safer life. Now, through her art, Huanyuan wants to inspire more self-expression and conversations.
Huanyuan is currently working on an ongoing series of oil paintings called BINDING, for which she received a Stamps School of Art and Design undergraduate research fund award. BINDING comments on the foot-binding convention in Chinese history as well as women’s oppression in a masculine system. For this project, Huanyuan used models of different ages, backgrounds, countries, and life stories, whom she interviewed to learn about how they have fought for female rights under a traditionally masculine culture. By situating contemporary female portraits and historical images of Chinese women with bound feet in the same space, Huanyuan has created a visual conversation between past and present. Going forward, Huanyuan intends to continue work in socially engaged painting series and use her artworks to inspire conversations that foster a diverse environment and a better world.
A working parent, Huanyuan has excelled at the top of her class while contributing to her Asian and fine arts communities with characteristic perseverance and care. Recognized as a “brilliant and ambitious young artist” with “independent vision” and “uncomplaining determination,” she has also been celebrated for her vision and talent with the Anderson Ranch Art Center Scholarship.
CEW+ is inspired by Huanyuan’s artistic vision and personal commitment and names her a Ruth Jeanette Buttrey Scholar.