A visiting artist helps students develop their style

Jing Qin joined the School of Art and Art History just a few months ago, but already she’s had a big impact on students in her studio art classes. Words such as encouraging, uplifting and compassionate come to mind for some of her students.

Qin is teaching through the spring as a Phipps Visiting Professor/Artist in Residence. She first made her mark at DU last fall, when she taught an introductory oil painting course and a painting workshop.

“She is incredibly good at walking the tightrope between instructing and encouraging, providing guidance and assistance when needed, and when it is not, stepping back to foster independent exploration,” says Caroline Hamilton, a senior psychology major with minors in studio art, English and communications.

Eli Bucksbaum, a senior studio art major with a minor in entrepreneurship, calls working with Qin extraordinary. He says he was “incredibly excited” to take her oil painting class, as he looked forward to learning to work with a medium that would accelerate his artistic abilities.

“Right off the bat, I knew that Jing was always there to support me and help me investigate my ability to paint,” Bucksbaum says. “The little moments of conversation I would have with her during the progression of my paintings weren’t overbearing or lopsided. I appreciated that her feedback or criticisms were honest but never hurtful.”

Qin says she finds talking to her students about their artistic ideas fun and rewarding, and she likes to get to know her students and their artwork. “I encourage them to think about themselves as artists in class instead of being a ‘student.’”

Qin was born and raised in Henan province, China. She earned a BA in painting and an MA in studio art from Sichuan University in Chengdu, China. In 2017, she earned an MFA in painting and drawing from the University of Tennessee.

Since then her work has been exhibited with galleries in Philadelphia, New York, Knoxville and several places in China.

“Having Jing as the Phipps Visiting Professor/Artist in Residence has provided a wonderful opportunity for our students,” says Annabeth Headrick, director of the School of Art and Art History. “Building on her own cultural experiences, Jing’s large-scale paintings have a flavor of Chinese screen paintings with a contemporary spin and lush coloration, and the work our students have produced under her instruction has been phenomenal.”

Qin finds artistic inspiration in her surroundings, from a book she read to a film she enjoyed to moments in her life. She also is inspired by art history, folktales and works from Western and Eastern artists.

“Recently, I am very interested [in] the cave mural paintings I have seen from my trip in the northwestern desert area of China. I was intrigued by the forms of the figures, compositions and color from these religious paintings. I wish I could make a work which could be a juxtaposition of surrealism and these mural paintings from my Chinese culture heritage,” she says.

Qin says her paintings have a strong sense of narrative, though the narrative is undefined and ambiguous.

“I am a big fan of magical realism literature, like Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, Haruki Murakami and Italo Calvino,” Qin says. “In their narratives, there is not a specific geographical space or a homeland, but rather it is an invented space created by the writers through their imagination, memories and folktales ultimately woven with some fragments of reality.

“I use a similar approach in my visual practice.”

The often-exaggerated eye or eyes in Qin’s paintings represent “the most important part of the human body,” she says. “Eyes [are] associated with visuality, vision and illusion. And often, it is symbolizing of a lot of many other things. Depending on how you like to interpret it, the forms and the meaning of the eyes could be expanding.”

Qin is teaching a painting workshop during winter quarter, which Hamilton and Bucksbaum eagerly anticipate. “My goal for this course is to bring an interdisciplinary approach to my students, therefore letting them learn and understand painting within a contemporary context. The class will be very hands-on, experimental and fun.”

She will wrap up her residency in May with an exhibit in the Vicki Myhren Gallery of paintings she creates this year.

“It was an absolute honor getting to work with Jing,” Hamilton says. “Not only is she artistically brilliant, she is incredibly compassionate and highly motivated to help other artists hone their craft and develop their style.

“She has revolutionized the way I approach painting. … I will be forever grateful for the time I’ve gotten to spend with her.”

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