SUMMIT, NJ - A colorful display of more than 100 artworks by Chinese school children, showcasing the creativity and self-assurance of the artists, is being exhibited at three venues in Summit and Chatham over the holidays.

The art show demonstrates the work of enthusiastic art students ages 4-12 at 'Seedling Republic', an after-school arts program in Foshan, near Guangdong (formerly Canton). The school was founded and is run by Yishi Liu,  who is spending the holidays with Cathy Youngdahl, a resident of Morris Township.

The artworks are being shown through December 23 at Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit (located at 4 Waldron Avenue); from December 26 - January 1 at the Chatham Club (484 Southern Boulevard); and from January 2 - 6 at the Library of the Chathams (214 Main Street). 

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Liu is a graduate of the Guangdong (Canton) Academy of Fine Arts, but in designing her own school, she followed a philosophy very different from  traditional Chinese art education, which emphasizes copying an image to get it right.

“Creativity is more important,” said Liu. “Encouraging kids to be free teaches them confidence, to be brave enough to show themselves and find themselves.”

She named her school 'Seedling Republic' because she sees every child as a seedling. “You give them water, light, space and other things they need, and they will grow. That is magic for me.”

Most of the art displayed here is made in vivid shades of oil pastels (crayons), punctuated by black marker. In her classes, Liu generally offers the kids a topic and encourages them to interpret the idea as they want. The pictures on display show the kids’ take on “monsters” and “my little world.”

The exhibit at Beacon UU is open to the public on Sunday, December 22 after the 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services. Members and friends may visit on December 23 by arranging with Erik Youngdahl at seedlingrepublic@gmail.com.

Artworks are on view at the Chatham Club and at the Chatham library during open hours. For more information, call (609) 787-8282.