Ai Weiwei, born in 1957, is the designer of Beijing National Stadium (colloquially known as the Bird's Nest) and an outspoken advocate of political reform in China. Ai regularly speaks out against the one-party state and the lack of political reform in China. During the Cultural Revolution, his family was sent to Xinjiang. Ai returned to Beijing in 1976, and founded the avant garde art group "Stars" in 1978, which disbanded in 1983. Ai spent time in New York City, from 1981-1993, at the Parsons School of Design. In 1993, Ai returned to Beijing to be with his ailing father. He helped to establish Beijing's "East Village" and put together a series of books on China's underground art movements: the Black Cover Book, White Cover Book, and Grey Cover Book. Ai is currently working on a project to find the names all the people who lost their lives in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
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Political Awareness and Birth of Chinese Avant-garde