Tian Ye, an artist who works in Beijing and Paris, became involved in rural revival this year in his home village of Tianjiatang, a remote location about 200 kilometers from Yinchuan, capital of Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region.
"You can't imagine how poor it is if you have never seen it in person," Tian said.
The village, which is home to 24 families, including the artist's brothers, uncles and some other relatives, was without electricity until 2005.
Villagers mainly plant rice and corn. The infertile soil has forced many of them to move to cities to make a living, and according to one local joke, farming a vast field for one year can only produce a hatful of rice.
Tian decided to save the village through art, as he has become influential in the artistic community.
He helped to renovate houses in the village that were in poor condition. Next, he intends to build an art space, a library, a theater, a health clinic and an art school as part of a highly ambitious plan that will take several years to complete.
In March, construction of the art space began. The work attracted about 500 people, most of them from nearby villages. Tian said Tianjiatang had not seen so many people gather together for many years.
"Everyone is excited and expects to learn about the outside world through art, although they have little idea of what art is," he added.
Tian has lived in France for 10 years and his work includes oil paintings, sculptures and installations.
He plans to invite friends, writers, musicians and performers to visit his home village for artistic activities that can help locals to improve their global knowledge, and also to attract tourists.
Tian, curator of the Western China International Art Biennial, which was launched in 2010, said he will bring the biennial to the village, which has a history of more than 1,000 years.
Tianjiatang, which lacks beautiful scenery and cultural relics, has its work cut out to attract tourists. But Tian said its history makes it stand apart from newly built cities in China.
Clay walls, which can be seen throughout the village, are hundreds of years old, making it "a history museum" he said of Tianjiatang's appeal to artists.
Since the start of this year, Tian has travelled to the village frequently. He decided to set up his art studio there, a space that can also be used by other artists to create works in the future.
"I return to my village for two simple reasons: to let my people earn money by offering services for future visitors and to let them learn about the outside world," he said at his studio in Beijing.