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Art exhibition in Northern California pays tribute to Chinese rail workers

Updated: 2019-06-26 14:26:44

( Xinhua )

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A California art museum on Sunday launched an art exhibition that pays tribute to the historic contribution to the United States by Chinese immigrants who built a transcontinental railroad 150 years ago.

Themed "The Race to Promontory: The Transcontinental Railroad and the America West", the special event, which opened in the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, capital of California, put on display paintings, artifacts and drawings depicting the Chinese railroad workers' experience and hardships during the construction of the first U.S. transcontinental railroad, which ultimately led the United States to economic prosperity.

The exhibits came from artists of the American Society for Contemporary Chinese Painting (ASCCP) and the U.S.-China Railroad Friendship Association (UCRFA), as well as school children of Silicon Valley-based Yun Hua Fang Art Studio.

Rong Lyu, a Chinese American painter and secretary of the ASCCP, who has long been devoted to promoting China-U.S. friendship, said one of her oil paintings which depicted a railway station after the completion of the railroad was modeled on the relics of a century-old rail station in the real world.

The painting aimed to help the viewers understand the part of history where Chinese immigrant rail workers shed their blood and sweat in building the first major American infrastructure.

"Many viewers, including native Americans, were amazed about the labor and the anguish of the Chinese immigrants who played a role in the construction of the United States as a country more than 100 years ago," Lyu said.

She hoped that the exhibition could pass the spirit of perseverance of the Chinese Americans to the next generations who will continue to live in this country, Lyu added.

UCRFA President Zhang Wei said the exhibition is a key part of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the American Transcontinental Railroad and the tremendous contributions of the Chinese rail workers, many of whom had sacrificed their lives in the U.S. unprecedented mega infrastructure project.

"The Chinese rail workers have been left in oblivion for much of the time in the U.S. history, and I hope they will be remembered by the mainstream American society as a legacy of the Chinese community in the country," she noted.

Zhang's remarks were echoed by Vicki Beaton, chair of community media at the UCRFA, who said that the Chinese immigrants were not honored for their contribution but instead were prejudiced against for some time in the American history.

"The Chinese rail workers were finaly recognized 150 years later, which came a little bit late," said Beaton. "But it's better late than never."

Patricia Penn, a retired worker of the California State Department of Education, who once worked as an elementary school teacher, said the exhibition is "very informative."

The American people should know the story of the Chinese rail workers, particularly the young people so that they can make connections between today and the past, and between the Americans and the Chinese people.

"The young people don't always understand what it means to have a railroad that carry goods and services, and sometimes they don't even know about ships in the harbor," she said.

"When I see the pictures here, the pictures are good for me," said Penn. "I taught the students about the history of he Central Pacific Railroad, and actually not only the railroads, but also the Gold Rush that brought many people into California."

She hailed Sunday's event as "very meaningful," which is a "good history lesson for young people and our parents as well."

"From the exhibition, we see how people created their lives, and how things had happened with the railroads. It's very inclusive of the people who were involved in the development of California," Penn added.

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