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Chinese sculptor fired up for Flushing art show

Zhang creates contemporary ceramic sculptures out of the kiln at a temperature that reaches more than 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. They take about half a month to complete and she usually works on three or four pieces every month. Her sculptures are on display at the Crystal Foundation Art Gallery at 31-10 Whitestone Expressway in Flushing until June 12. It could not be a better opportunity for her since New York is considered to be among the top global marketplaces for contemporary art. One aspect of Zhang's work that may have collectors eager to buy is the fact that the red-and-black glazes that coat some of her sculptures can only be found in the mountains near the city of Foshan. She said she toiled for five years in the rocky terrain creating thousands of recipes before finding the right one for her black-glazed works. Her red sculptures contain leads only found in that section of China. Although Zhang said the Nanfang Kiln belongs to the Chinese government, she has not been bothered by officials about the content of her work."Twenty years ago there were some problems, but it is not an issue now. I am totally free and have major control," she said through an interpreter, adding that the government began its openness 10 years ago.She said her travels to the United States and other freer countries have influenced her art, which conveys a positive outlook on life despite current events."People betray each other and there is a lot of disease and I wish that we could live in a peaceful world," Zhang said.Her interpreter and friend, Tess Yu, pointed out that one of her red sculptures has short arms that are reaching out to embrace the world. Yu said Zhang's aggressive art style prompted many who had seen her work to think it was done by a man. Zhang's sculpures, many of which are as tall as eight feet, have simple titles such as "Red #2" or "Copper #4" because she wants her work to be open to interpretation.It was Zhang's relationship with Yu that netted her space in the gallery. They met at a North Carolina college where Zhang was teaching. After viewing Zhang's sculptures, Yu said she knew Zhang had to share her work with the world and contacted the gallery's owner, Ming Lei, who was interested in the sculptures."I was amazed. Her work was full of power," Yu said."Everybody should see her work. It's beautiful."Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173

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