ABOUT HUANG XIANG
Huang Xiang is considered one of the greatest poets of 20th Century China, a master calligrapher, painter, and a preeminent, Post-Cultural Revolution poet of China. His lower class origins precluded him from attending school but at the age of 10 he discovered a treasure trove of college books that his father had hidden away earlier and began reading them in earnest. These books included the Classic Chinese works and translations of major western authors, poets and statesmen.
In 1978, Huang posted big character posters of his poems on seventy yards of fence near Mao Zedong’s mausoleum near Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Word of Huang’s posters and his comments including, “The death of an emperor is the death of a rat”, spread across of the city in an instant. This act sparked a movement that became known worldwide as “The Democracy Wall”. Afterwards Huang Xiang and his friends held a short ceremony there to proclaim the founding of “The Enlightenment Society”, whose aim was far reaching reforms of Chinese society. The response from the public was electric! In the days that followed, the “Democracy Movement” was born.
In March 1979 Huang Xiang was arrested and sentenced to a period of “reform through labor”, and the Central committee banned publication of his works. The ban continues until this day. Huang Xiang was imprisoned six times spending a total of twelve years in Chinese prisons, due to his poetry, his advocacy for human rights, and his fight for democracy. Despite his harsh treatment, his several terms in prison, and his two stints on death row, his poetry reflects a hopeful view of China.
Huang Xiang and his wife Zhang Ling were forced to leave China and eventually they were granted asylum in the United States.
In Oct 2004 Huang Xiang was asked to be a guest writer in Pittsburgh for the North American Network of Cities of Asylum. Shortly after coming to Pittsburgh Huang Xiang covered the outside of his house in the Mexican War District with his calligraphy and poetry.
Today it is one of the most visited landmarks in Pittsburgh. After completing his residency with the city of Asylum Huang Xiang moved to New York City where he frequently collaborates with other artists. Today his mission is to use his art to build a bridge between east and west and to honor a universal humanity.