Paintings by Jiaqi Maria Ma ’17 are on exhibit at the Freeman Center for East Asian Studies Gallery. Ma, pictured at right, created the paintings for her Wesleyan thesis titled (BEIJING | 北京).
On Sept. 20, Ma presented an artist’s talk inside the gallery. (BEIJING | 北京) consists of a series of five paintings based on her experiences living in Beijing. “I feel as though I made my memories real by building my own city through the process of painting,” she said. Ma, a Freeman Asian Scholar, double majored in classical studies and studio art and minored in archaeology.
“My painting process is similar to the never-ending development of a city,” Ma explained. “Buildings and passages are created and erased, changed and layered, compositions and neighborhoods shift and mature. Similarly, my feelings and memories of my hometown, Beijing, have evolved as I distance myself geographically and chronologically.”
When Ma made the choice to dedicate her senior year to a painting thesis, she wanted it to be both a self-reflection on her relationship with Beijing and an exercise in the technical aspects of painting. Her work is inspired by artists Edward Hopper, Simon Stålenhag and John Singer Sargent. The paintings are based on family photos of an old Beijing railway station; her grandparents’ peony bush and window; a hutong courtyard—similar to one that her mother grew up in; a Beijing portion of the Great Wall from a distance; and a composite image of the Forbidden Palace on a smoggy day and on a clear day. “The five images range from personal to impersonal, but they are all memories I have of, and associate with, my birth city.”
Ma’s advisor, Professor of Art Tula Telfair (pictured standing, at right), attended Ma’s exhibit opening.
Forbidden City, 60 by 40 inches, oil on canvas.