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In June 2008, my family and I took a trip to Bali with a group of U of I music students and faculty. We arrived at the hotel after midnight, directly from the airport. I will never forget the delightful moment as I opened the door in the early morning—everywhere my eyes met lush greens in every possible size, shapes and shades; among them, unknown flowers stretching their bright colors with robust energy; close by, mirror-like rice fields reflecting the pinkish glow of the sky - everything was imbued in such a beauty of quietness… The sudden appearance of this exotic scene made me wonder if I had accidentally jumped into a teleportation device (like the one in Star Trek)… I believe the seed of this series was planted back then. Almost 20 years ago, I came to the United States in a hope to learn how to paint landscapes and flowers like the classic masters, but then I fell in love with abstract painting – eagerly and painstakingly exploiting the freedom of its self-expression, my early paintings dealt with fear, confusion, anxiety; restless and groundless feelings toward this tumultuous, open-ended and unpredictable world. Painting flowers became the last thing I would want to do… However, this way of thinking about life has gradually yet profoundly changed since I became part of a loving family, and especially after the birth of my two children - quiet like growing roots, a sense of appreciation and optimism has gripped the soil of reality. Reviewing my paintings over the past years, each one of them seemed to step out from the shadow of the previous one—lines running to meet each other, forming stories instead of passing through each other and rushing out of the picture frames; colors getting brighter and warmer; instead of mindlessly roaming nowhere, dots would bounce with joy and energy; some of them started to root into the ground … This new series is all about wild flowers in their flourishing state. Instead of painting them from still life, I had to let each one grow organically from the soil of my mind, onto the almost arbitrarily painted background. In vases, and mostly outdoors in the unknown wild—these flowers are self-sufficient and glowing within, emitting their beauty in such tranquility— just like those I remember in Bali.
Bio / Description:
At a very young age, Hua Nian and her family were forcibly moved from Beijing to a small rural town in southern China during the political upheaval of the Cultural Revolution. This harsh childhood experience and rigid environment prepared her to become a close observer of the world. The move to the United States made a profound impact on her life, and on her making and thinking about art. The strong contrast of Chinese and American cultures inspired her to transform all her personal experience into new, fertile soil. From her early “Mask” printmaking series to her current series of acrylic paintings, “Where the Wild Things Glow”, Nian expresses feelings about our ongoing life under the force of nature and the scale of history.
As a signature artist of the International Society of Acrylic painters (ISAP) and the National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS), Ms. Nian’s paintings have been shown in numerous art exhibitions thought out U.S. and in Germany, Australia and China. She has been a frequent award winner at various local, states, and national shows, and her works have been widely collected by co-ops, universities, and by numerous private collectors around the country. Her works and interviews have been featured in the American Artist Magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, Dialogue: An Art Journal, and in numerous local and Chinese newspaper and magazines, as well as cover art for books, music CDs, and posters produced by Stanford University and others.
Ms. Nian moved to the USA in 1992 from China, after years of teaching photojournalism in Jinan University in Guangzhou. She received her Master’s degree in Art Education from Pittsburg State University, Kansas in 1996, and is now an active exhibiting artist and art instructor at her studio —Hua Nian Art Studio. She lives and works with her husband and two children in Urbana, Illinois.