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Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei lends his vision to West Michigan’s Meijer Gardens

Mar 10, 2017

Remember the 2008 Olympics in China? The stadium, nicknamed the “bird's nest," was one of the most iconic visuals from the games. It was designed by Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

Weiwei's work, titled "Natural State," is on exhibit at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.

Joseph Becherer, chief curator and vice president of collections for Meijer Gardens, began working with Weiwei while he was under house arrest in China. Weiwei was just released in 2015.

Becherer said that while Weiwei is a “maker,” his work is conceptual and the materials he uses are diverse.

“There are pieces that are made with ceramics, there are pieces that are made with bamboo and silk, there are pieces that are made with Legos, there are pieces that are made with ancient pottery, photographs — there are even two films in the exhibition,” Becherer said.

Weiwei’s exhibit takes over many different spaces at Meijer Gardens. Becherer said Weiwei was “intrigued” by the ability to use a variety of spaces for the exhibit, including galleries, plant beds and public spaces.

The exhibit “Natural State” by Ai Weiwei will run through Aug. 20 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. 

Listen to the full interview above.

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