Ai Weiwei’s "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” to Open on National Museum of Wildlife Art Sculpture Trail in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

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Ai Weiwei’s renowned "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” featuring twelve monumental bronze animal heads from the ancient Chinese zodiac by the acclaimed artist/activist will open in Jackson, WY on May 9, 2015 at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The installation on the Jackson Hole-based museum’s outdoor art venue, the Sculpture Trail, represents the first showing of the “Zodiac Heads: Bronze” series in a mountain setting, making Jackson Hole the fifteenth worldwide venue to present the Bronze series on its internationally touring exhibition.

The Dragon, one of 12 Zodiac Heads to be installed at The National Museum of Wildlife Art this May on the Museum’s stunning Sculpture Trail.

Enjoy these sculptural masterpieces, framed by our iconic Teton mountain peaks, and take some of the magic home.”

Animal sightings are common in Jackson Hole, but the cultural significance of animals beyond the region will be further explored when the National Museum of Wildlife Art hosts Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” from May 9 through October 11, 2015. The monumental sculptural suite of 12 bronze heads representing the animals of the Chinese zodiac, by esteemed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, will be installed on the Museum’s Sculpture Trail, overlooking the National Elk Refuge.

Each animal of the “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” installation stands roughly ten feet tall and weighs about 800 pounds. The eleven actual animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig) and one mythical creature (dragon) are installed in the order of their appearance in the Chinese zodiac and re-envision the originals designed for the fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan (Garden of Perfect Brightness) in the 18th century during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). The Yuanming Yuan was destroyed during the Second Opium War (1856–60) and was looted by invading Europeans, keeping ownership of the original works embroiled in international controversy. Ai offers this body of work as a symbol of Chinese national pride, and as a representation of the issues of looting and repatriation. Beyond their significance on the international stage, the heads are immediately engaging because of the familiarity most visitors have with the Chinese zodiac. The heads prompt visitors to ask, “What’s your sign?”

“The Jackson Hole art scene contributes in exciting ways to the vibrant community, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art continues its legacy of high caliber inspiration with this exhibit,” says Sara Flitner, the Town of Jackson’s newly elected Mayor. “We invite guests from near and far to experience Ai Weiwei’s 'Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads' in Jackson, which is sure to be the most beautiful and dramatic setting for this international world tour. Enjoy these sculptural masterpieces, framed by our iconic Teton mountain peaks, and take some of the magic home.”

The show arrives in Jackson after being exhibited in Mexico City, Chicago, London, Toronto, New York, São Paulo, Taipei, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C among other international venues. In addition to the sculptures, the exhibit offers a short video depicting the history of the work and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads.”

About Ai Weiwei
One of China’s most prolific and provocative contemporary artists, Ai Weiwei (b. 1957, Beijing) is known for such major projects as the installation of “Fairytale” at Documenta 12, in 2007, and his collaboration with architects Herzog & de Meuron on “The Bird’s Nest,” the main stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, as well as for his embrace of the Internet and social media as active platforms for commentary and as art forms in their own right. The noted human-rights activist studied at the Beijing Film Academy, and in New York at Parsons School of Design and the Art Students League of New York, and co-founded the China Art Archives and Warehouse and the architecture studio FAKE Design. In 2012, Ai Weiwei received, from the Human Rights Foundation, the inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent.

About the National Museum of Wildlife Art
The National Museum of Wildlife Art, founded in 1987, is a world-class art museum holding more than 5,000 artworks representing wild animals from around the world. Featuring prominent artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, Robert Kuhn, John James Audubon, and Carl Rungius, the Museum’s unsurpassed permanent collection chronicles much of the history of wildlife in art from 2500 B.C. to the present. Built into a hillside overlooking the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyo., the Museum was designated the “National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States” by order of Congress in 2008. Boasting a museum shop, interactive children’s gallery, café, and outdoor sculpture trail, the Museum is only two-and-a-half miles north of Jackson Town Square, and two miles from the gateway of Grand Teton National Park. Located at 2820 Rungius Road, in Jackson; 307-733-5771.

Jennifer Weydeveld, Director of Marketing, National Museum of Wildlife Art,
Jweydeveld(at)wildlifeart(dot)org, 307-732-5450; Darla Worden, WordenGroup Public Relations, darla(at)wordenpr(dot)com, 303.777.7667

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