Hua Nian

The Water is Wide, paper-tearing, 10″ x 16″

Tug of War
, paper-tearing, 11″ x 17″

White Dove
, paper-tearing, 9″ x 12″

Bedtime Story
, paper-tearing, 9″ x 12″

Piano Lesson
, paper-tearing, 12″ x 12″

, paper-tearing, 9″ x 12″

Sing a Song
, paper-tearing, 9″ x 12″

Artist Statement

Since moving from China to the United States to continue my education, I have noticed that my ways of thinking and painting have changed profoundly. My paper-tearing art, however, which I began in my homeland around 1992, remains the same—children are always the subjects. After I became a mother of two, mothers and siblings began to join my scenes. My playful children have brought me much joy as well as inspiration.

The works seen here are made from torn magazine paper. The torn edges of the paper, casually defining the shapes set against darker backgrounds, help me to convey spontaneous and expressive ideas. With the randomly torn shapes piled up in front of me, I usually start a work without any certain images in mind. The colorful shapes, and even the sound of ripping the paper, stimulate my imagination. By continually rearranging the shapes and colors with critical eyes, I often find those little ones with joy and surprise.

I construct the figures in a rather abstract way. The figures don’t even have facial features but, offering clues from their body language, I try to invite viewers to share their artistic imaginations with me—to sense their expressions and feelings, making out an arm here, a smile there.

About the Artist

In the late 1960s and 1970s, during the political upheaval of the Cultural Revolution, a very young Hua Nian and her family were removed forcibly from Beijing to a small, rural town in southern China so that her well-educated parents could be “re-educated” by the local “labor classes”. Hua Nian spent her childhood in a cotton factory surrounded by rice fields, rivers, and mountain ranges. Her harsh childhood experience and rigid environment prepared her to become a close observer of the new world around her when she moved to the United States in 1992. The strong contrast between the Chinese and American cultures inspired her to transform all her personal experience into new, fertile soil for making art. From her early “Mask” printmaking series to her current series of acrylic paintings, “Where the Wild Things Glow,” Hua Nian expresses her feelings about her ongoing life journey, from being overwhelmed by the tumultuous, on-rushing modern world to settling in to a more tranquil and calm relationship to it.

A signature artist of the International Society of Acrylic Painter (ISAP) and the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society (NOAPS), Hua Nian has shown her paintings in numerous art exhibitions throughout the United States and in Germany, Australia, and China. She has been a frequent award-winner at various local, state, and national shows, and her widely collected works can be found in numerous private collections and collections of co-ops and universities. Hua Nian’s works and interviews have been featured in American Artist Magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, and Dialogue: An Art Journal, as well as in numerous local and Chinese newspapers and magazines. Her paintings also have served as cover art for books, music CDs, and posters produced by Stanford University and others.

Before moving to the United States, Hua Nian taught photojournalism at Jinan University in Guangzhou. She received her master’s degree in art education from Pittsburgh State University in Kansas in 1996.

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.

Hua Nian Website

Hua Nian Interview with 40North

Hua Nian Feature in atHome in Central Illinois Magazine

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