In 1972, at the height of China’s Cultural Revolution, I was sent to the rural village of Qingping, located in the mountains of northwestern Sichuan province. I was seventeen years old. I was sent, along with millions of youth from urban centres, to isolated farming communities to be “re-educated” by “peasants,” who were viewed as the backbone of Mao’s revolution.
I spent four years in the mountains and during this time I kept many journals. I filled them with notes and sketches, documenting my first immigrant experience. The journals detail my psychological transition from youthful optimism to depression and isolation. Over time, the ideological landscapes and my skyward view receded, replaced by high mountain landscapes where I lived within. During this time, art saved me and gave me hope for the future.