Wenqing Zhai Interview

Wenqing Zhai

Wenqing Zhai discusses evolving as an artist, exploring societal and political themes, & continuously pushing boundaries of expression.

How did you get into making art?

When I was little, I loved to draw, but as I got older and started elementary school, I didn’t have much time for drawing anymore. Art became something I could only do if I did really well in other subjects like physics, math, and chemistry, which I struggled with. But everything changed when I moved to the United States for high school. I was able to start doing art once more and I fell in love with it. By the time I was in my second year of college, I decided to change my major from environmental engineering to fine art. Ever since then, I’ve been evolving as an artist.

What are you currently working on?

I’m focusing on creating preliminary sketches for future paintings. These sketches build upon the themes I explored in my work last year, where I commented on a variety of societal and political issues that struck me as absurd or ridiculous. My goal now is to weave greater sensibility into these themes, and to continuously push the boundaries of my expression.

I always see art as a platform for ideological exchange.

Wenqing Zhai

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

My work has always been a reflection of my personal experience. Having experienced life in two very distinct societies, I’ve become aware of various ideas and beliefs that significantly influence the daily lives of individuals. This motivated me to question societal norms and constraints that are often accepted without questions. I always see art as a platform for ideological exchange. Through my art, I aim to challenge these norms by offering alternative perspectives.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

I do both. My art has an ongoing discussion about the issues I observe in today’s society, with each piece focusing on a different subtopic to contribute to an overall narrative. However, I encourage viewers to see my works collectively to fully understand my artistic language.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

Being a full time artist has granted me the freedom to be a night person. I usually wake up before noon, eat, and do my daily Duolingo lessons while I wait for my coffee to work its magic. Then I start painting for a few hours while listening to my favorite podcasts. I need to take regular breaks to manage back pain; otherwise, it becomes unbearable. Typically, I only stop working when I hit a physical or mental limit, which usually happens around midnight.

Who are your favorite artists?

Stephanie Temma Hier
Arghavan Khosravi
Trey Abdella
Anna Koak
Meeson Jessica Pae
Jiannan Wu
Lauren Satlowski
Brach Tiller
Julie Curtiss
Dominique Fung
Marisa Adesman

Where do you go to discover new artists?

Instagram for online discovery. I also like to attend exhibitions and show openings every now and then, which allows me to experience art firsthand. The works can be quite different than seeing them through a small screen.

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