YORKTON - An artist reception will be held Saturday at the Godfrey Dean Gallery in Yorkton with artist JingLu Zhao.
The reception set for 2 p.m. will be an opportunity to hear from the artist herself about her paintings exploring identity, memory, and her lived experience as a mother and newcomer to Canada.
Zhao was born in China in 1981, and now resides in Saskatoon where she is focused on her career as an artist.
For Zhao an interest in art formed early.
“My grandma introduced calligraphy to me when I was five, then my parents started sending me to the art class when I was in Grade 6,” she told Yorkton This Week. “Probably since I was 12, I realized I had an interest in art.”
But what was it that attracted Zhao to art rather than writing, music, or sports?
“I like shapes, colours, I feel confidence when I am in front of the canvas,” she said. “I like writing, I used to write a lot of dairies when I was younger, but writing is a hobby.”
With an interest brewing in art Zhao followed with training to hone her passion.
“I have two master degrees of Fine Arts. One is from Sichuan University, China, the other one is from University of Tsukuba, Japan,” she said.
Over the years how Zhao has approached art has naturally evolved as her life has changed.
“After I got my MFA from Japan, I went back to Chengdu, China to teach art for a few years, until I decided to move to Canada in 2013,” she said.
“For the past nine years, I have focused my energy on starting my family and raising my three children.
“After I send my youngest to daycare, I began to have more time for myself to paint. I have been drawing my children, while they play, explore, and learn. My son and my daughters experience a very different childhood than I did. They have space and time to play, learn, and grow.”
It is the stories of family oft reflected in Zhao’s work.
“I am telling our stories through my artworks,” she said. “I like to capture my children’s energy and curiosity, blending reality with imagination.
“I have been creating paintings that combine figuration and landscape.”
So what of the Yorkton show specifically?
“'Ray of Light’ show is my third solo show in Saskatchewan,” said Zhao, adding “Thanks Godfrey Dean Art Gallery for this amazing opportunity to show my artworks in Yorkton.”
The collection is one Zhao said she is certainly connected to.
“I love all of them, because I created,” she said.
“But if I have to choose one this time, it gonna be the newest one ‘Ray of Light— Boffin Gardens’. It is 60 x 96 inch, two pieces stretched canvas together.
“I was inspired by Boffin Gardens of University of Saskatchewan. That view reminded of my hometown in China, it perfectly represented me as a Chinese, living in Canada.
“No matter what we are going through, there is a hope inside of us.
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