One-armed Paper-cutting Artist Shares Her Inspiring Story

 December 13, 2018
Zeng Huarong introduces her paper-cuttings. [West China City Daily]


Here is a story shared by a creative paper-cutting artist from southwest China's Sichuan Province who lost one of her arms in a childhood accident. 

Zeng Huarong was born in a happy family in Meishan County, Sichuan, in 1958.

Since her parents were too busy to take care of her, Zeng was sent to grow up with her grandmother when she was still a baby.

One day, Zeng accidentally fell into a coal burner and was severely burned, thereby losing her right arm.

In order to be able to enter school as soon as possible, from the age of five Zeng began to study with her father, who was a fine arts official at a cultural center. After two years of uninterrupted study, Zeng finally got into primary school.

But, at nine, Zeng was sent to her grandmother's home again.

"It was because that my parents thought they would spoil me. I was sent to live with my grandma as an attempt to cultivate my ability to live independently," Zeng recalled.

At her grandmother's house, she learned to cook, wash clothes and do housework, to her parents' relief.

"At that time, my classmates and friends were very nice to me, offering me a great deal of help," Zeng recalled.

After graduating from high school, Zeng worked at a library of Pengshan District Cultural Center.

During this time, Zeng began to learn oil paintings under the guidance of her father, which also laid the foundation for her later paper-cutting art.

In 1997, after a post adjustment, Zeng began to work as a folk artist.

"My father holds the view that paper-cutting is easy to get initiated to, but hard to master," Zeng said. 

As of now, she has studied the art for over 21 years.

"At that time, there were few people who were adept at paper-cutting, and what's more, it was even harder to find someone who'd be willing to teach a girl who has only one armed left," Zeng said.

Thus, whenever she had free time, she would look up all kinds of referential materials all by herself in order to learn about the history and characteristics of paper-cutting.

In order to develop her own style, Zeng integrated traditional Chinese realistic painting and paper-cutting. Her works created in this way have both the simplicity of northern school of paper-cutting and the delicateness of southern paper-cutting.

Over the years, with continuous efforts, Zeng has made rapid progress in her paper-cutting, and has gradually become an expert in the field at the Cultural Center.

In 2009, Zeng held her first exhibition. With her vividly displayed characters and exquisite skills, Zeng's debut was a great success. Since then, she has worked harder to improve.

Her work won the Sichuan Provincial Disabled Arts Festival Excellence Award and has obtained many other honors and prizes at city and county levels. 

Later, she began to consciously inject folk culture and contemporary features into her paper-cutting works, making the artistic works richer and more profound.

Though the ups and downs of her life has brought hardships to her, it has also enriched her experience, broadened her horizons and has become the source of her inspiration.

"Paper cutting teaches me to be grateful, grateful for everything that life gives, and brings me more spiritual wealth," Zeng said.

Paper-cutting also further strengthened Zeng's determination to carry forward and promote the Chinese paper-cutting art.

Before retiring in 2014, Zeng had been teaching paper-cutting skills to students at the Cultural Center.

After retiring, Zeng, who was nearly 60 years old, started a two-year public welfare course to teach children for free.

She joined Pengshan District Social Security Volunteers Association, and often went to the countryside to teach disadvantaged women and children some basic techniques to enrich their lives.

At the same time, Zeng also wants to tell those who have suffered setbacks through her own story: "Never lose confidence in life, because behind the shadows there is sunshine.”


One of Zeng Huarong's paper-cuttings [West China City Daily]


(Source: West China City Daily/Translated and edited by Women of China)


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