TEMPE, Ariz.—”The Art of Zhen Shan Ren International Exhibition” received acclaim in 900 cities and 50 countries as it toured across Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Asia. It is now receiving its first permanent home, with 20 of the exhibit’s paintings installed in the newly built Art of Zhen Shan Ren Museum in Tempe, Arizona.
Business owners Nick and Holly Janicki spent months searching for the best location for the museum, researching ancient Chinese interior design, and constructing a serene and beautiful environment to display the paintings and to house events. The couple finally opened their dream museum on April 29.
“It’s been a vision for several years to have a permanent Zhen Shan Ren museum. Bringing it to fruition is truly wonderful,” Nick Janicki said in an interview. The entrepreneur and founder of True REST Float Spa has also formed Blacklisted Studio, a production company that aims to give voice to the voiceless through humanitarian-focused events.
Guarding the entrance to the museum are two lovely but fierce kirins (also known as qilin), which according to ancient Chinese belief are spiritual beings considered benevolent and gentle, and associated with greatness. Yet the kirin can be fierce when defending innocent people from the malice of evil-doers.
These beings are an appropriate symbol for what lies within the museum.
Falun Dafa and a Way of Peace
The Janickis draw strength and peace from their practice of Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that rests on the principles of zhen, shan, and ren—truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. Those who live by these principles and perform the practice’s five gentle exercises seek to improve their health and gain wisdom.
With the museum, Nick Janicki sees a chance to acquaint people with the beauty of the practice of Falun Dafa. Many of the paintings, inspired by the peaceful meditation practice, offer a view into a world of inner beauty, strength, and wonder.
“We hope to reach out to our local community and share more with school groups, corporations, and university students,” Nick Janicki said.
But the museum also provides a visual record of the ongoing journey of Falun Dafa practitioners under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. Some of paintings document the ongoing persecution of Falun Dafa by the communist regime.
Before 1999, the Communist Party reported that roughly 100 million people were practicing Falun Dafa in China. Fearing the fact that more people were practicing Falun Dafa than were registered as members of the Party, then-Party leader Jiang Zemin banned the practice and initiated a ruthless, bloody campaign to eradicate it on July 20, 1999.
Each painting on display in the museum has a true story to tell, and even though some of the paintings document unbelievable brutality, the overall effect is peaceful. The subtle beauty of the interior beckons visitors to enter. As they stroll through the inner sanctum of the museum, they notice a profound stillness.
“Many people have commented on the special feeling they have inside” the museum, Nick Janicki said. The peace emanates from the skill of the artists, and the paintings depicting the beauty of Falun Dafa.
Visitors to the museum have access to a guide who is always on hand to explain the stories in the paintings and to answer any questions. In the future, the museum will also feature a virtual reality experience, using headsets.
“The virtual reality section of the museum will transport people to a new realm. Participants will be left excited and in awe by what they experience,” he said.
It will take “the adventurer through … cosmic realities, golden temples, and the occasional frightening scene,” to allow a dynamic journey through ancient Chinese culture and to learn about the spiritual discipline of Falun Dafa,” he said.
The Art of Zhen Shan Ren Museum is located at 1840 E. Warner Rd. in Tempe, Ariz., and is open to visitors Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment. Admission to the museum and all events is free of charge.
Cheryl Casati is the founder of Equi Balance Dressage and Horsemanship. She’s also a freelance reporter, author artist, and college student working toward her Master’s degree in Ecopsychology.