Area artist ‘shows’ sound in paintings

by Thomas Douty

Seeing sound is difficult to do, but Baofeng Wang’s paintings break the barrier. In “Sounds of Nature,” which opened Friday at the University’s Paul Whitney Larson Art Gallery, Wang’s 27-piece collection expresses sound through vivid color and media selection.
The artwork, running for four weeks at the St. Paul gallery, consists of landscapes, animals and still-life renderings in oil and watercolor. Several are also done in colored pencil and gouache — an opaque watercolor used primarily in fashion design.
In “Two Geese on Water,” Wang used bold watercolor strokes to create ripples in the water surface. “That’s an effect you can’t get through color pencils, for example,” said Bin Yang, Wang’s wife. Yang is a graduate student in the University’s Department of Food Science and Nutrition.
In another piece, Wang used colored pencil to illustrate the vibrations created from walking elephants.
“He wants to convey what the landscapes sound like as much as what they look like,” Yang said.
Wang’s most noted piece, “Mother and Son,” was also featured in the 88th Annual Fine Arts Exhibition at the Minnesota State Fair. In this gouache painting, he depicted a Tibetan mother and her young son. “Mother and Son” was sold Friday night along with two others.
Although this is Wang’s first art show, he did have his own fashion show when he lived in China. Wang is studying English and is considering attending art school.
“Sounds of Nature” is Wang’s first show since moving to Minnesota two years ago. Wang grew up in Shenyang, a small town in northeastern China. He began painting and drawing when he was five years old and formally started painting when he was 16. After high school, Wang obtained a degree in industrial design and became a fashion designer. However, Wang said he is an artist at heart and a fashion designer just to make a living.
The Larson Art Gallery holds a new exhibition every three to four weeks. The project is funded through student services fees and sales of the artwork, from which the gallery receives a small commission.
“We’re hoping to increase the University’s awareness of the art community,” said Diana Eicher, the studio-visual arts coordinator.
The exhibitions showcase one or several artists at a time. In November, the gallery will exhibit “Small Stuff,” featuring a collection of artists whose works consist of miniature sculptures.
A group of three students at the Visual Arts Center selects the artists for each exhibit. Committee members aim to represent artwork from a variety of perspectives.
“We’ve been trying to focus on having a lot of different cultures and parts of the community,” said Krista North, an intern at the Visual Arts Center and member of the selection committee.
“Sounds of Nature” will run Monday through Friday until Nov. 12.