Bemis artist bridges cultures

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August 31st, 2011

Omaha, NE – The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art will present the work of three artists-in-residence Thursday night, including a local artist who is using her work to bridge cultures.

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A native of China, artist Yinghua Zhu has been on a long journey to get to her current life. She’s lived in Omaha for 12 years, and began her career earning her Bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems.

Ying Zhu uses sculpture and installation, often using text and language, to create works that bridge cultures. (Photo credit Bemis Center)

“But after I graduated, it just became really clear to me that I did not want to spend my life sitting in front of a computer,” Zhu said in a recent interview with KVNO News. “So I went back to school and took some studio art classes, and realized this is what I want to be doing. I want to be creating, and be making and discovering.”

Now, Zhu has an exhibit at Peerless Gallery in Midtown Crossing, which opens Friday. And she will spend the next few months working full time as an artist-in-residence in the Bemis’ studios. Zhu is pursuing her dream of full-time artist with her work in sculptures and installations, turning household materials like eggshell and paper into abstract explorations of culture.

“A lot of the ideas were inspired by my experiences of leaving China and coming to a new place,” she said. “So this transformation, and just looking at things with new eyes and discovering things. I think we all share this experience of caught in between, or going to a new place, new environment.”

Zhu says she also uses text in her work. Language is fascinating to her, she says, as her own experience with it formed a gateway to a new world.

“In a way, I was trying to take language or text from their literal environment and make it into a visual experience,” she said. “Language represents the culture itself. So it’s a way for me to discover the culture, or adapt to the culture. Language was kind of like the tool I used to make these discoveries.”

Zhu will present her work to the public at the Bemis’ monthly Art Talk, where she’ll discuss her artistic process with the community. She’ll be joined by the Bemis’ two other artists-in-residence: New Yorker Peter Owen and Tim DeVoe, from Richmond, Virginia. The Art Talk takes place Thursday at 7pm at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in downtown Omaha.

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