Artist: Manyu Gao
Exhibition: Not avaliable
Media: Oil painting on canvas
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Website: Not Avaliable
About the Artist
Manyu Gao is a foreign exchange student from China who has been at CSULB for about two year. She is in the School of Art’s Drawing and Painting Program. This is her last semester at CSULB and after completing the program she will receive her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts. Her work explores ideas of cultural assimilation to express the culture shock she experienced when she came to the United States. Gao also has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Public Management from the University of La Verne.
Gao’s oil painting is of a women sitting with food on the table, holding a drink and with her other hand holding her cheek. The food on the table is hamburgers and fries which seems to look like McDonald’s. It can be assumed that she is at a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant because of the food and how the table and chair is structures. Also, the big window gives a night outside view. It look like if the “McDonald’s” is located in the corner of an intersection and across there’s a gas station. The lines of the oil painting are running vertical and the dynamic texture is very bumpy. Different colors are used to distinguish what things which makes it have a staccato style. The colors used in the oil painting are pretty neutral, nothing very bright other than the red is used.
Gao’s oil painting portrays cultural assimilation. This specific oil painting is about herself trying to adapt to the norms and customs of the United States. She drew herself alone, eating food which she said was a resemblance of McDonald’s. Drawing the hamburgers and fries was her way of showing the food difference between the United States and China. She also drew herself alone because when she first came here she didn’t have nobody. There were times where she felt alone because her friends and family were back home in China. She decided to do this oil painting for her ART 492Z upper division course to show how tough it was for her to adapt here since there is a big culture difference between China and the United States. At the moment she doesn’t have a name for this oil painting but she said she was thinking of “Lonely Girl.”
I find it very interesting how Gao expressed her cultural assimilation feelings through this oil painting. I have never been anywhere far from home to experience a culture difference, but I can imagine how hard it must be to leave everything behind. For last week’s classmate conversation, I met another foreign exchange student that is also from China and she also mentioned the loneliness feeling like Gao experienced. I believe people who leave their hometown are very strong and brave because I don’t think I would be able to leave my family and friends for such a long time. I really enjoyed looking at Gao’s oil painting and I believe she has a lot of talent.