Wan Yang (b. 1992) is an artist based in San Francisco but born in the northeastern city of Chang Chun in China. She received BFA from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2015. Wan Yang studied painting at Massachusettes College of Art and Design 2015-2017, where she found the way to express and communicate using painting and drawing, and she received a Master of Fine Arts in June 2017. Her work entitled OUTCAST belongs to the permanent collection of CAFA Art Museum of China Central Academy of Fine Arts, and the painting SUMMER WHISPER was collected by Copelouzos Family Art Museum in Athens, Greece. In 2019, Wan’s works participated in more than a dozen exhibitions around the world. Her works shown from Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul to the University of Suffolk in the United Kingdom, as well as multiple online exhibitions and physical galleries in the United States and China. Wan’s collectors from all over the world. The physicality of making an art piece, for her, is primarily in the subconscious creative process. She believes art has the potential to inspire and empower, to shape lives and carve soon-to-be-trodden paths. Perception is in sharp focus for her creative working process; painting is an extension of her body. She paints to explore the world.
We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grow up in Chang Chun, a four distinct seasons city in northeast China. My father used to be a policeman, and my mom was working at food administration. But they choose to start-up businesses after I born. They begin with selling cigarettes in the 90s and now running an optical store. My parents found I showed interested in illustration when they read books for me when I was a baby. They let me try all the things I show interested in during 4-10 years old. Painting is the only one I still keep passion after having “serious” classes. When I was a teenager, we travel a lot. My parents think the passion for art and the open mind of the world can always guide me. I was living in Beijing for five years and graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts. After graduating from CAFA, I moved to Boston to pursue a Master’s degree in Fine arts. During the two years at Massachusettes College of Art and Design, I found the way to express and communicate using painting and drawing. Now I am living and working in San Francisco as a fulltime artist.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice? Is there a theme you are currently addressing?
For the past few years, I have been working on different motifs, but the central concept is the same. The thresholds between perception and conception are what I am exploring in my practice. Perception is in sharp focus for my creative working process; painting is an extension of my body. The physicality of making an art piece, for me, is primarily in the subconscious creative process. Waving series, Bloom series, or Rustling series are all inspired by reality nature I experienced daily. But I am trying to rebuild a logic on paintings when I create them in the studio. The connection between humans and nature is essential in my paintings.
Do you have a mentor that influenced your practice?
James Cambronne is my professor in the graduate program. We rarely discussed the painting skills. Most time, we were talking about history, culture, and philosophy. During the critic, I gradually understand my inspiration foundations. He teaches me the way to critical thinking.
You’ve been very active during the past few years. What is the most exciting thing you’ve done or accomplished so far?
A permanent museum collection when I was a new graduate in 2015 and a solo exhibition in Boston before I moved to the west coast meant a lot to me. HALATION is my first solo exhibition at Bromfield Gallery; we focus on showing the Rustling series indicates an anthropomorphic whisper, which informs the subterranean. The most exciting thing for me always the next one. This fall, I am going to have a solo exhibition in China, represented by the LAN gallery. Another one I am looking forward to is a collaboration with fashion brand-IMM. We are going to work together and release a fashion series in 2021 spring. It is always lovely to see my artworks surrounding people in different ways.
What does “community” mean to you? How do you see yourself in a community?
The last artwork I made in China titled Outcast. I prefer to keep a distance from the “community.” I am trying to keep my artworks stay away from political or social activity, although it is very hard. I am a sensitive person who is easily angry or heartbreak by a movement in real-time global hotspots. But as an artist, I am worried my works are misleading by the act on impulse. I keep reducing the sociality in the creative process and trying to keep the original painting language.
Is there any advice you would like to share with others?
Be happy and be healthy.
text & photo courtesy of Wan Yang