Biography of Manli Chao
I began my art studies at Queens College and New York Studio School from 1987 to 1989. After I moved to bay area I continued my BFA studied at the Academy of Art University. I returned to my Fine Art Studies at the Academy of Art University in 1996 and was awarded M FA in 2001.
Originally from Taiwan, my early education was focused primarily in the mainstream academics including earning a degree in mathematics prior to arriving in the United States prepared to pursue a degree in Computer Science. Although I always felt the need to express myself artistically, I never had the support or encouragement to pursue an artistic path.
While living and studying in New York City in the mid 1980’s I found the people and the environment encouraged me to develop creatively. I seized the opportunity and over the last 20 years have developed my skill, my artistic voice and my style as a painter.
When I was an art student in New York, I would frequently visit art museums. I recall that in MOMA New York’s exhibition hall for the impressionist master Monet, a particular painting hidden in an obscure corner deeply caught my attention. Monet had undertaken and completed this work when he was nearly blind. The painting contained no discernable objects, but instead presented bold lines and colors of an intense emotional nature. For a long time, I stood before the painting, captivated. Although feelings and moods were considered intangible, I believed their existence being real and brimming with vitality. Due to the subtle influences of surrealism and abstract expressionism, as well as personal predilection, I devoted myself to non-figurative art creation as an MFA candidate in 2001. The transition from sensory to subjective thinking and expression not only brought me into a realm of spiritual discovery, but also provided me an unlimited space for creative development.
Nature has always evoked deep feelings within me. I recall climbing Dabajian Mountain and Yu Mountain during my college days in Taiwan, and observing unique sights on the trail, such as the variously sized branches frozen into icicles and the stars hanging on the night skyline, nearly in hand’s reach. To this day, I have not forgotten that moment when I returned to nature and tuned out on everyday life. On my multiple trips to the Arabian Peninsula and Africa between 2005 and 2010, my eyes beheld vast deserts that stretched to the end of the earth, and the dazzling spectacle of a crimson sun descending in the horizon. The environment seemed virtual and surreal. After I settled in California in 1988 and experienced its rainy winters, I developed a special affinity for the rain. On those gloomy days, I listened attentively to the rhythm of the raindrops. It led me to think of rainfall as a blessing from the Heavens that showered the Earth with every color in the visible spectrum to paint its surface. I observed the transformations rain made on windowpanes, starting as dots, merging into lines, and eventually coalescing into aggregate forms. All of these experiences caused me to stop and ponder, inspiring me with creativity.
The perception of various natural phenomena in the universe by the mere naked eye is sufficient to thrill me. The truth and beauty manifested in such moments cannot be expressed in human words. Regardless of how they are perceived—from a macro or micro level—natural objects manifest their unique characteristics, while transforming within a harmonious system according to time and space. Such a vivacious and embracing world not only enriches my life, but also sparks my creativity. As an artist, I humbly pursue means of transposing personal experiences into my artwork, candidly reflecting my sentiments and reverence for nature.