// For Callie Eh, photography is more than a way of making memories, it was a lifesaver and picked her up at a difficult time in her life and has not let her go ever since. This time she has documented the Chinese painter Miao Li, who lives and works in Switzerland.
Originally from Malaysia, Callie has lived in various countries and is now based in Switzerland. Callie started taking photos in 2008 but what really impacted her photographic style was a documentary workshop in Krakow in 2016, which was extremely intense and deeply changed her photography point of view.
Snap, and a moment is captured, forever still, saved for generations to see. Callie loves to photograph people as they go about their daily lives and tell their stories through her lens. “The camera is a friendly tool to get close to various people and photographs hold the power to connect people. I became open to different cultures, understand more about their dreams and interests, conversations on diversity and equality before sharing them with you,” she says.
For our second feature of Callie´s documentary work, another series from her “Happines projects”, she has shared with us a documentary about the Chinese painter Miao Li, who feels happy blending traditional Chinese painting techniques with motifs of the old European masters.
“Creativity takes courage.”
What draws you to the arts?
“What I love about art is complex for many different reasons, this is one of them. When you look at a piece of work done by one artist or another, you’re not just seeing a painting or a sculpture. You’re seeing an extension of that artist, it’s a piece of themselves put out for people to see. On another note, art also provokes us to look at the world differently, makes us think or see things through the eyes of others.”
What impressed you most about this artist?
“I love Miao’s work, what impressed me is her courage to experiment with traditional Chinese painting and innovating with new painting techniques, applying some European elements, painting them her way, and expressing what she wants to express: “feelings”, “thoughts”, “future dreams”, and “reality”, without creative restrictions.”
In Zug, Switzerland, Callie became acquainted with the Chinese painter Miao Li and decided to document her at work. Miao was born and raised in Xinjiang, in western China, studied at Peking university in Beijing. She fell in love with art at a very young age, and she attended Xinjiang Yeyu Art Academy from age 6 to 16, winning several international art prizes. Growing up to be an artist was Miao’s dream. Although she decided to go for business studies at university, art remained her hobby for many years. Fortunately, she was able to pursue her dream again to become an artist after she moved to Zug, Switzerland, in 2016.
Freeing her mind from artistic restrictions, she found her own style and worked to express her inner feelings on paper. Miao has studied both European and traditional Chinese art, and the symbiosis of those two worlds fascinates her. She loves to experiment with the expression of the cultural similarities and contrasts and their amalgamation in her paintings. She found a new and exciting technique of using ink and Xuan paper, enabling her to create her own paintings in traditional Chinese style.
Callie asked Miao Li for her photographic “Happiness Project” what makes her happy, and this is what she said: “I feel internal happiness when being deeply immersed in something I love, what some people term flow, like when spending time with the people I love, experimenting with my painting skills, observing nature and children playing, or even enjoying an interesting book or an inspiring documentary”.
Miao’s favorite city is Zug, which has become her second hometown. She loves this place with its many typical symbols of what constitutes being a “Zuger”, and whenever she steps outside, she has the urge to paint the beautiful scenery and surroundings. She has therefore decided to create a series of paintings around Zug. Miao also teaches children traditional Chinese painting in her spare time, and she especially enjoys seeing them explore new painting techniques and their results. Her art has been exhibited in Switzerland at Zuger Kunstnacht Pop-up Art Gallery – a group exhibition in September 2020.
Images may be cropped for layout. Click on the photos to see the original version.
ALL PHOTOS © CALLIE EH
You may also be interested to visit Miao Li´s Instagram page.