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Artwork greets Oakland travelers

Photo courtesy of Hung Liu

Mills College painting professor and world-acclaimed artist Hung Liu unveiled her 160-foot long glass mural titled Going Away, Coming Home in the new wing of the Oakland Airport on Nov. 14.

Going Away, Coming Home will be read and enjoyed in myriad ways by children and adults, from those who will understand the enormous complexity of its composition, techniques, symbols and references, to those who will mainly be dazzled by its visual beauty and poetic-mythic qualities,” said Moira Roth, Trefethen professor of art history at Mills.

“For some, it will be a place to pause and imagine what it would be like to fly alongside the cranes; others will muse upon their own travel destinations; and yet other travelers will go back and forth from peering through the glass at the mundane, concrete world outside to being serenely immersed in Liu’s world of birds, sky, land and water,” Roth said

The mural was commissioned by the Port of Oakland along with two other pieces that will be installed in the new Southwest terminal of the Oakland Airport. The piece was a collaborative effort, especially with Germany’s Derix Glasstudios, where Hung produced the 64 panels covered with 80 red-crowned cranes.< br>

“Hung was a complete pleasure to work with,” said Barbara Derix of Derix Glasstudios at Hung’s opening. “She is a unique woman, she is very funny and light, yet an extremely passionate, hard-working woman. She is so committed. She hand painted every crane on that wall. We kept trying to tell her that we had professional painters who could do that for her and she wouldn’t listen, she had everyone running around with glass, even my parents! Everyone in the shop kept asking when that crazy Chinese lady was coming back.”

The glass mural is described in an informational pamphlet distributed at the opening as a combination art piece that weaves together ancient practices with modern, highly technologic procedures, the freedom to fly with the pull of gravity, and the Bay Area with the rest of the world.

“This piece represents the dreams and the imagination that let us fly, but also the pull of gravity that brings us home,” said Liu at the unveiling to a crowd of around 300.

“There is a Chinese saying, ‘When someone gives you a drop of water, return to them with a spring,'” Liu said, her voice full of emotion. “I want to especially thank Oakland because it has given me more than a spring, it has given me a home.”

Among those in the audience were colleagues, friends, fans, family members and students of the artist. Mills President Jan Holmgren beamed as she stood in front of Liu’s mural and listened to the speeches.

“There was such an enormous amount of creativity and hard work that went into this piece, and it means so much to Mills. It has opened an amazing connection between Oakland and Mills, and we are honored for that,” said Holmgren.

With regards to future projects, Hung said she is currently working on an installation for one of the gates at the San Francisco International Airport and will be flying to Singapore for an opening in January.