As I mentioned in a previous blog post, over the past year my teammate Zin, in Taiwan, has been spearheading theme projects featuring the works of many local artists. This week we have two new themes from Zin, created by the artist Cheng Ling; “Taiwan Culture Sketches” and “Behind the Masks.” Ms. Cheng’s first theme is a timeless snapshot of everyday life in Taiwan, captured in a series of affectionate sketches of roadside markets, boat docks, train stations, and other scenes.
“I traveled around many small communities in Taiwan so as to be immersed in the cultural vitality of each place,” says Ms. Cheng. “I enjoyed being surrounded by the local history, which could carry me from the present to the past. This shuttling was poignant… somehow both hopeful and sad at the same time.”
Her second theme features delicately-tinted fantastical drawings of masked figures, on a mysterious background of shadowy antique parchment etched with constellation-like lines.
About this theme, Ling says “Like wearing a mask, we arm ourselves every day to play roles that meet others’ expectations, so as to survive in real life. It is only when I create that my soul can freely show itself from behind the disguise.”
In addition to creating art for her own self-expression, Ling is a professional book illustrator and commercial artist. “Generally speaking, I prefer to create using conventional media and techniques, such as oil and acrylic painting, oil pastel, and color ink. I enjoy the texture of overlapped pigments and mixed colors. I also experiment on the hybrid of different materials. If I am working on a commercial design, I will refine it using digital programs.”
Ling draws her inspiration from the small experiences of daily life, such as the steam from brewed coffee, cobwebs in the corner, and music, books, and movies. She was also very inspired and encouraged by three mentors who have influenced her over the course of her life. “The first ignited my interest in art when I was in college, and the second is an illustrator from whom I’ve learned many painting techniques. My third mentor’s open-minded teaching concepts have given me more confidence and maturity in my artwork. One thing she told me is ‘No one can force you to follow the suit of others. It is for you to decide how to live.’ What she said affected me so profoundly that I hope to be able to help others who are also eager to be artists.” She is a member of OCC (Original Content Connection), an official association of Taiwan to support local creators in advocating their artwork. She actively participates in conferences and workshops held by OCC, and sometimes finds new inspiration through communicating with other artists there.
Ling has faced some unique challenges in her life. Born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, her approach to and relationship with art was colored by growing up with this condition. “The way I paint is influenced by my different experience, and by the environment of solitude. Every painting I work on is composed of constant interior monologues, the expression of my ideas, and the exertion of imagination.”