1,001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is joining communities across the globe in celebrating Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

Ai, who has fought unrelentingly for artistic freedom and freedom of speech throughout his career, is best known for his participation in the design of the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympic Games.

He was taken into police custody in Beijing after being detained earlier in April on suspicion of "economic crimes." No official statement has been issued.

On April 17, a worldwide sit-in will support Ai. The initiative, 1,001 chairs for Ai Weiwei, asks people to bring a chair and sit peacefully in front of Chinese embassies and consulates in support of his immediate release.

The Aldrich is inviting visitors to collaborate in a show of support by creating miniature chairs to add to a collaborative sculpture in reference to Fairytale, one of Ai's largest projects to date. Just stop by the Education Center, where materials are available to make your miniature chair—or make one at home and then post a photograph of your chair on the Museum's Facebook page. The chair installation will remain on view in the Museum's Atrium until Ai's release.

Fairytale: 1,001 Qing Dynasty Wooden Chairs, was conceived in 2007 for Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany. There, Ai arranged 1,001 late Ming and Qing Dynasty wooden chairs around the exhibition and recruited 1,001 Chinese citizens on the Internet to volunteer to live in Kassel during the show. The work commented on changing the lives of ordinary people by providing them with new social, political, and cultural experiences.