Leah Wong (王丽华) was born in Qingdao and now paints scenes inspired by her hometown in the United States. She received a B.F.A. from Zhejiang Fine Arts Academy, now the China Academy of Fine Arts, in Hangzhou, China in the 1980’s and was the only female accepted into the institution at the time. Since moving to the United States, Leah received an M.F.A. in painting from Ohio University and undertook independent graduate studies in painting at Ohio State. She is currently an adjunct faculty member at the Columbus College of Art and Design.
“With the “Peoplescapes,” I was motivated to communicate through my art the bustling everyday life activity that I witnessed in my recent Asian travels, to bring together again realism to the human figures and explore landscapes. In 2008, I resided in Taiwan for eight months. I again traveled to China in 2009 to document Chinese artists from the 1960s and 70s in collaboration with art history professors from The Ohio State University. A National Endowment of Humanities grant funded this project.
While the previous “Creature Cutouts” interacted with each other, the “Peoplescapes” are realistically painted people that are a part of groups united by a similar activity and dress. Within the group, each person is uniquely individual with little interaction existing among them. In some of my previous work, there was a story; the creatures were imaginary and playful.
In my new work, the people are “waiting” for the main event. They are arrested in an everyday life moment. These seascapes are drawn from people watching and from my memory of the ocean resort city of Qingdao where I grew up.”