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A focus on cultural exchange

Huang Zuxiang's photo of a standing crane won a gold medal in a college professor's photo competition in China.

Editor’s note: This is the second of two stories about visitors from Red Wing’s sister city in China.

By Ruth Nerhaugen, contributorPhotographer Huang Zuxiang. (Photo by Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor)

Huang Zuxiang’s job is to serve as director of arts and cultural activities in Quzhou, China. But his profession is photography.

“That’s who he is,” explained Tao Peng, interpreter for the Chinese visitor from Red Wing’s Sister City. Huang is in residence this month at the Anderson Center. In exchange, Red Wing artist Art Kenyon will be spending a month in Quzhou.

Like others who have both careers and passion for the arts, Huang works hard at both. In Quzhou, he has held key positions in various cultural institutions since 1998.

Huang’s responsibilities have included serving as chief librarian of the Quzhou Municipal Library, which he said offers some 500,000 different kinds of books; and being director of the Quzhou Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection Center.

He oversees a large municipal staff that is involved in all areas, from music and performing arts to theater and visual arts.

In his other role, he is chairman of the Quzhou Photographers’ Association, executive director of the Zhejiang Photographers’ Association and a member of the China Photographers’ Association.

One of the very different things about spending a month in residence in Red Wing, Huang said, is the absence of daily job responsibilities that keep him very busy at home.

Peng explained, “It’s not only the difference between the two countries. It also has to do with not working. He is very relaxed,” and able to keep busy taking photographs with his Canon digital camera.

“It’s very beautiful,” Huang said of Red Wing.

“He likes to go around near here to take pictures,” Peng added in translation. In addition to wildlife and nature shoots, Peng noted, “He loves to take pictures of people.”

On the Tower View grounds, Huang has found some wildlife — including squirrels – and he has snapped shots of seagulls and migrating birds. On his own, Huang also has walked on the Cannon Valley Trail to downtown Red Wing, and done some bluff exploration.

The corn and bean fields caught his eye. “I really want to take pictures of harvesting the corn with the big combine,” he said.

China-born Peng, an information technology specialist at Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, took Huang to Lake City to see eagles and to an outdoor pizza farm in Wisconsin. Heading back home they caught a beautiful Midwest sunset.

Peng, who also is active in the Red Wing Sister Cities Commission, hopes to take Huang to Duluth to see Lake Superior before the visit ends.

While in Red Wing, the exchange artist was scheduled to meet with students at Red Wing High School and with members of the Red Wing Photography Club.

Huang was prepared to talk about basic photography and to show some scenery from Quzhou.

Huang brought with him images from his country, including an award-winning photo of a crane. Peng explained that there is little wildlife to see in Quzhou, a large city, so Huang goes on photo shoots.

The crane photo that won the Gold Medal in a Zhejiang Province college professors’ photo competition was taken in northeastern China — the only place where that particular bird can be found. “This represents longevity in China,” he said, and often is given to an older person celebrating a birthday.

Huang’s photographs are displayed in galleries and entered into competitions.

This is his first visit to the United States, although he has done some traveling in Australia and New Zealand. Huang hopes to see a little more of this country before going home to Quzhou, where he has a wife and a 9-year-old daughter.

Huang said he will have an exhibition of his photographs of Red Wing and possibly other parts of the United States when he returns to China.

Expressing his thanks to the Anderson Center for inviting him to study and work at Tower View, Huang said, “I am very happy here. I enjoy the time. …

“Everybody is so friendly here. I really, really like that.”

Huang looks forward to welcoming Red Wing’s exchange artist to his city this fall. Because it was his department that issued the invitation, he anticipates seeing quite a lot of Kenyon.

A longtime local resident, Kenyon retired as advertising director, brand manager and marketing vice president for Red Wing Shoe Co. and now works out of a studio at Tower View. He works in oil, watercolor and acrylic paints, and also does graphite drawings and printmaking.