Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am currently a student in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My focus has mainly been painting and drawing for the past four years since I am here. I was born and raised in China. Though I have been taking art classes on and off since I was little, I have only began to think about what it means to be a professional artist a year after I started college. This whole process of figuring out what it means to paint and what painting can do is now built into my works and my practice. I want to keep my paintings and my practice in flux. This unstable situation between beginning and conclusion is for me beautiful and full of energy.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
Now when I think of it, my first encounter with the idea of “art” is perhaps in kindergarten through the form of classical music and dancing. When I was playing piano or dancing, I seemed to find my means of self-expression. To express, to tell or to communicate have been the core of my visual art practice for years. I am not sure when that I decided to take visual art, specifically painting and drawing as my long-term pursue. It is something that I have been and continue learning through making.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
For a while I am very interested in creating illusional space in my works–as a way to understand how we experience and perceive space in daily life. But I realized I was actually interested in the passing of time that goes in and out these spaces.
I want to offer an experience of passing by. It means traveling in the grey zone between “here” and “there”—between the very present and the recent past.The effort to capture something that has just passed, the insecurity of forgetting and the joy of remembering all fuse into a visual message that I want to deliver to the viewers. I am inspired by the beautiful ambiguity of this in-between location.
What is your process like?
I paint in response to my surrounding environment. I am inspired by my daily commute between home and school. I would paint for the changing sky, for a crow on the treetop, for the streetlights at night and for a passerby.
I usually work on at least two paintings at the same time. I always like to draw. It brings me a refreshing way to look at my paintings. I also enjoy making sketches. Sometimes I like to spend a day in Starbucks making really simple sketches of what I see and what slips through my mind. These sketches then become the base of my paintings.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
One of the most important advice I have got is actually a sentence from Diebenkorn’s “Notes to Myself”; he writes “The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued – except as a stimulus for further moves.”
One suggestion that I knew I chose to ignore is probably “Try to make on monochromatic painting”.
What is your studio like?
Besides my studio classes that take place in a big shared studio classroom, I usually use the spare classroom to paint on my own. Every time when I go to the studio paint, I need to lay out my tools, palette and paints, pull out my paintings from the racks. This process actually allows me to always look at my paintings in a new way; it gives me time to think before I touch the canvas.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
It is the fact that challenge and frustration are both productive.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
Breath, Gravity, Gift
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on a series of small paintings based on my sketches. I am trying to find shapes in my drawn lines then use brown-paper stencils to carry those shapes onto the canvas.