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Among the 400 works on display at the nationwide peasant painting exhibition, 23 come from Jiaxing city of east China's Zhejiang province. The hoe-wielding farmers have taken up the brushes, but what has brought about this change?
Zhang Jinquan barely scrapes by making wooden canoes. But he also owns a small workshop.
Zhang Jinquan said, "I have spent all my spare time on painting. My works even made it into the album of the current exhibition. I am proud of my creations."
Within his village at Xiuzhou district of Jiaxing city, Zhang Jinquan is not alone. Four other farmers have their own workshops and receive a government grant of ten-thousand yuan per year for the paintings and artistic exchange. This folk art is already drawing visitors to this unknown region.
Chen Yufeng, tutor of Xiuzhou Peasant Painting Class, said, "The cultural center of Xiuzhou district holds two coaching sessions to over one-hundred farmers every year. Now we have over two-thousand painters."
63-year-old woman peasant Fei Xinbao has never taken a single class in her life. Yet she's holding a solo exhibition this year after taking some free coaching four years ago. Sixty works reflect the experiences of her family members: her mother's marriage at an early age, her own livelihood raising rabbits and sheep, and her daughter buying cars.
Fei Xinbao said, "The paintings themselves comprise a sharp contrast. In such a graphic manner, they explain the changes that have taken place over these years."
The achievements are just as spectacular as the changes. In Xiuzhou alone, over three-thousand paintings have been produced, with eight-hundred of them making it into various national exhibitions. Two-hundred have won awards and are touring abroad to countries like Australia, the United States, Japan, and Canada.
And a fresh batch of talents is being nurtured. Students begin to receive painting education upon entering primary school.
It seems that the amusement of one individual is becoming the pastime for the whole society.
- Peasant paintings reflect changing times 2010-07-14