February 1 marks the start of the Lunar New Year as the Tiger takes center stage in 2022.  The Lunar New Year is the biggest and most important holiday in most Asian cultures celebrated by over two billion people around the world with family gatherings, festivals, fireworks and feasts.

The Lunar New Year is the beginning of the lunar or Chinese calendar and is ruled by the moon's cycles. Each year in the lunar calendar is represented by one of the twelve Zodiac animals: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Additionally, five elements, earth, water, fire, wood and metal are woven into the lunar calendar and correspond to a year and an animal.

Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze by Ai Weiwei rings the outside of the Albee Amphitheater and features the twelve animals of the zodiac.

This Lunar New Year corresponds with the element of water making 2022 the Year of the Water Tiger.  In many cultures the tiger symbolizes boldness, strength, power, and leadership, and the Water Tiger indicates a more open minded personality. Who better to signify those attributes than artist and activist Ai Weiwei? Throughout his life, Ai has lived courageously, creating art highlighting political and social issues in China, using his voice and his work to support democracy and human rights at great risk to himself.  

"The art always wins. Anything can happen to me, but the art will stay." - Ai Weiwei Image courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio

Ai's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze will once again be featured at LongHouse Reserve this year, symbolizing more than just the zodiac.  Check out this short video on the creation of this powerful collection:  Ai Weiwei: Zodiac Heads.  The Tiger is the third animal in the zodiac, after the Rat and the Ox, having been beaten by the two in The Great Race according to Chinese zodiac legend.  

Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze are placed around the Albee Amphitheater in the order of the Chinese zodiac.

This is not the first time that Ai's Zodiac Heads have appeared at LongHouse.  In 2013, the Heads debuted in our Pavilion space in gold.  Take a look at the Tiger in this stunning installation.

Can you spot the Tiger? Image courtesy of Adriel Reboh for Patrick McMullan

Be inspired by the Year of the Tiger and live your dreams! Be bold and resolve to live life creatively in the new year.  To quote Ai Weiwei, "Creativity is the power to reject the past, to change the status quo, and to seek new potential. Simply put, aside from using one's imagination - perhaps more importantly - creativity is the power to act."  Onward!