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 Lei Yixin  (1953 - )

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Lived/Active: District Of Columbia / China      Known for: public monumental sculpture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Selected in 2008 to oversee Stone of Hope, the 28-foot tall sculpture of Martin Luther King and focal point of the King memorial in Washington DC between the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, Lei Yixin became the subject of controversy because he is Chinese living in China and not an African American citizen.  He was discovered 'by chance' in China when King Memorial Project Foundation members were visiting a granite-carving festival in Minnesota and were impressed by his work.  They found him asleep under a tree, having been told:  "You should talk to that guy over there." In 2007, they named him head sculptor for the Stone of Hope.  In April, 2008, the U.S. Commission of Fine Art rejected his design, but by summer 2008, he had been reinstated.

Yixin is from a family of scholars and was exiled to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution.  He started art school in 1978, graduating in 1982, and then worked as a draughtsman before being recognized for his sculptural talents and commissioned to build monuments.  Since then he has created over 150 monuments.

Sources:
Saul Austerlitz, "A Leader Not a Dictator", ARTnews, September 2008, p. 84
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lei_Yixin

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