Visual artist Yingxue Zuo’s family was persecuted by China’s ruling Communist Party when he was a child. His father was sent to a labor camp, where he died when Yingxue was 5 years old. His family was forced to move to ever-more remote cities in northeast China until, at age 15, he found himself working with a drill team searching for coal in the Changbai Mountains.
It was a bleak situation. A family friend saw some drawings Zuo made and hung on his wall, and suggested he try to parlay his artistic skill into a brighter future.