The University Record, June 11, 1996

Exhibition highlights the works of Mignonette Yin Cheng

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services


Cheng's watercolors and oils will be on display at the Slusser Gallery through June 27.

"I can remember, as a child, lining up on a beach in Southern China with my brothers and sisters, our backs to the water," artist Mignonette Cheng says. "My father then asked us all to look at the sunset, upside down, between our legs. This 'new vision' of the world has stayed with me. It is a feeling that I try to capture in each of my paintings, a sense of looking at a familiar scene with new eyes."

Oil and watercolors by Mignonette Yin Cheng will be exhibited in the Slusser Gallery of the School of Art and Design through June 27.

The exhibit includes works in oil and watercolor completed during a seven-year period while Cheng taught at the University's international studies program in Florence, Italy, and will feature more than 70 watercolors from her recently published book.

Cheng, who will be retiring this year from the faculty of the School of Art and Design where she has taught for 33 years, says while open-air painting often suggests a romantic vision, it is also a practice of challenges.

"The serenity of these sketches does not reveal the sometimes trying circumstances under which they were created: extremes of weather and the eccentric behavior of the locals, to name a few," Cheng writes in her book. "Nor does it speak of the sinking feeling of missing the last bus home, hiking uphill for two hours to find you have forgotten your paints, or the ironic exhilaration of watercolor painting in the rain. Through my many trips into the Italian countryside, I have come to know not only the complexities of the public transportation system, but how to assemble an equipment survival kit: a Cotman's watercolor field box, a large 20" x 30" pad of watercolor paper, brushes, a palette, a bamboo folding stool, water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat."

Cheng considers her watercolors from Italy studies from nature. "I work not from imagination but from observation," she says, "trying to interpret personally natural pictorial space and the relationship of its elements. Watercolor is an ideal medium for the spontaneous recording of transient atmospheric effects. The speed with which it can be applied and its inherent luminosity make watercolor the most practical medium for open-air painting."

The Slusser Gallery, located in the Art and Architecture Building on North Campus, is open each day 11 a.m.­4 p.m. Admission is free.