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Chinese embroiderer refuses NASA request to buy life-like sky pieces

(People's Daily Online)    09:19, September 19, 2018

“I want my work to stay in China,” said embroiderer Chen Yinghua, as the reason that she refused to sell her embroidery pieces featuring sky and clouds to the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

In 2006, Chen saw pictures of the starry sky and was so amazed that she decided to produce versions using needlework. After numerous attempts, Chen completed a total of 16 starry-sky themed pieces of embroidery within two years.

In 2012, Chen brought her collection to the 28th International Astronomical Union Conference. At first, her work received little attention, but after learning that they were embroidered, guests couldn’t get enough.

A representative from NASA showed interest in buying the pieces of art, but Chen refused him instantly, without even asking how much he would pay for them.

“These are my favorite pieces of art. I would prefer that they were collected by Chinese museums for exhibitions to the Chinese public, rather than being sold abroad,” she said resolutely.

The Suzhou-born artist started to practice embroidery when she was 18. In the 1970s, it was traditional for girls to learn the skill when they were young. Chen was one of them.

As a beginner, Chen would practice 15 to 16 hours a day. Some said it was boring, but she enjoyed the peace of mind she found while stitching.

When she was 18, Chen stood out among her peers by finishing a piece depicting the magnificent Huangshan in eastern China’s Anhui province.

From 2006, Chen’s workshop has helped innovate more than 100 embroidery pieces for the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Chen said her mission is to spread embroidery to more people. Every week, she goes to special education schools to teach students how to embroider for free, and they have become regular visitors to her workshop.

“As long as they want to learn, I’ll teach them,” she said. 

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(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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