Sunday, October 12, 2014

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight was a Asian-American artist known for her interest in the Beats and Zen Buddhism, and for "calligraphy-inspired abstraction." She was an activist and an arts administrator in the 1980s in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today's Out Spotlight is Bernice Bing.

A leading Asian-American artist, Bernice Bing was born April 10, 1936, San Francisco, California and spent her early childhood in a Chinese orphanage, in Caucasian foster homes and with her Chinese grandmother. Bing described her grandmother as having residual feelings of “anger and subservience” combined with an underlying strength. “For me there was the difficulty of being an Asian-American child going to a basically very middle-class white school and trying to assimilate both of these cultures."

As a young artist, she won a scholarship to attend the California College of Arts & Crafts (now California College of the Arts), where she was a student of Richard Diebenkorn and Saburo Hasegawa. She earned her BFA (1959) and her MFA at San Francisco Art Institute (1961).

After changing her study to painting, she encountered Japanese painting professor Saburo Hasegawa. A practitioner of Zen, Hasegawa’s structured lessons, Eastern philosophies, style, and introspection inspired Bing and influenced her life and her work. She became know for "calligraphy-inspired abstraction" in her paintings, which she adopted after her time studying with Hasegawa.

In discussing her time with Hasegawa, Bing said, “I had no idea what it meant to be an Asian woman, and he got me started thinking about that.”

A three-month trip to Asia helped influence her most iconic works, in which she incorporated Chinese calligraphy. Just as her connection to her grandmother influenced her identity, so too did her trip to China. Her journeys through the streets, cities and small villages left her feeling that she was apart. “I suddenly realized that I was in the majority, yet, also, though I had the same skin color, I was a stranger,” she said. “My posture, my dress was different, my accent was quite different—everyone knew I was a foreigner.” Bing’s masterpieces reflect her lifelong feelings of cultural duality and incorporate Eastern technique.

Bing emerged at the forefront of the avant garde and thrived in the heart of the Beat scene in San Francisco’s North Beach. Her large circle of friends included artists Joan Brown and Jay DeFeo.

In addition to producing her own masterful compositions, Bing affected changes in the San Francisco art world and community arts organizations that continue to be vital today. She also became an activist for the Bay Area LGBT community in the 1980's.

Author Lydia Mathews in " Quantum Bingo" described Bing: “As an artist, a radical thinker, a Chinese American, a lesbian, a Buddhist–she strove to live an ordinary life in a profoundly non-ordinary way. Bingo’s life often went against the grain; her works were acts of trust and faith.”

The Asian American Women Artists Association produced a documentary of illuminating the life and times of  the visionary artist entitled "The Worlds of Bernice Bing".

Bing passed away on August 18, 1998, in Philo, California.

“Drawing was the thing that kept me connected.”


Vatican said...

Breaking: This is a stunning change in the way that the Catholic church speaks about gay people. The Synod of Bishops said today that gay people have "gifts and talents to offer the Christian community" and "[W]ithout denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners."

Make no mistake: this represents a revolutionary change in how the church addresses the LGBT community.

The Synod's document also turned to several other questions related to families, including birth control, and reminded the church of the "the need to respect the dignity of the person in the moral evaluation of the methods of birth control," that is, the need to respect the personal conscience of the individual. And the Synod recommended the idea of "gradualness" when it came to "cohabitation."

The document is the mid-point summary of the bishops' meetings over the last week, and is not a final declaration. (Besides, the Synod has another session next year.) But it is still revolutionary, as were some of the comments of the participants during the press conference today. As with the Second Vatican Council, the participants may have gone into the Synod not expecting much openness or change, but the Holy Spirit is afoot.

Special K said...

Happy Thanksgiving Seaweed and to all our Canadian OMG friends and visitors.

destiny said...

I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving Seaweed.

prairiegirl said...

Hope you have been enjoying a nice Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, Seaweed! Did you have some turkey? :-)

Happy celebrations!