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Ozarks Life: Woody Jin expresses his spirit with the beauty of the Ozarks

Springfield artist enjoys an American life without censorship
Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 5:32 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - If you take a trip to Missouri State’s campus, and head onto the second floor of Carrington Hall, you’ll see a picture hanging just outside of President Clif Smart’s office.

At second glance, it’s not a photograph but a painting.

This portrait of Carrington Hall once belonged to Wenping Qiu, a research professor in MSU’s College of Agriculture.

“This is beyond description,” Dr. Qiu said of the painting. “It was decided to hang this painting on the hallway, I was also totally surprised.”

Dr. Qiu got it right from the artist, Woody Jin.

Some of Woody’s latest paintings include the Old Mill along the Finley River in Ozark, and Hawks Bill Crag in Arkansas. Not bad for someone who taught himself how to paint in his native China.

“In China they’re good at math or science, but I’m not good at that,” Jin joked, “but finally I think oh, I can draw, I can paint.”

And not having a teacher to guide Woody wasn’t his only brush with an obstacle.

“In China we paint, you know, we have censorship,” Jin said. “To paint, what I want, to find for myself, I need a place, have freedom, so I decided to come to the U.S.”

Just as Woody’s paintings start with an empty canvas, his expectations in the United States was just as limitless. He found his way to Springfield to get his Masters at Missouri State. And along the way, immerce himself in Ozarks culture.

“One day, we love this city, because it’s totally different from my experience,” Jin said. “I think this is what I want to stay.

“This is the place for him to express his will, his feeling, his emotion,” Dr. Qiu said.

And Dr. Qiu was there for Woody as a mentor, friend, and leader at the university’s Chinese Baptist Church - something foreign for the student from China.

“Dr. Qiu introduced God to me, we don’t know Jesus before,” Jin said. “Everything changed. I was an artist before I paint the landscape, I thought, oh, I did good. But now I thought, how beautiful God created those.”

And his love for Missouri State, came out in his masterpiece. Carrington Hall was one of the first things Woody remembers seeing when he arrived in Springfield.

“The first place I go, is a Chinese Students’ Church, just across the National Road and you look towards the Carrington Hall,” Jin said.

Dr. Qiu offered to buy the painting and then he gave it to MSU President Clif Smart as a gift.

“Very grateful for our university,” Dr. Qiu said, “President Smart and his wife Gail, and for support of this university with this endowed professorship, this is just a token of my appreciation.”

Click here to visit Woody Jin’s gallery.

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