March 18, 2011 — The McIntire Department of Art in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences will present a special exhibit of the work of artist Yi Sheng in the Morven Dairy Barn. Sheng is a visiting faculty member in the Studio Art Program, where she is helping to initiate a program in performance and installation art.
Sheng's exhibit, "The Miraculous Mandarin," opens April 1 and runs through April 29. A First Friday opening reception will be held April 1, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and includes a sound-based performance with handmade glass ocarinas by Sheng at 7 p.m. A free shuttle bus will be available on opening night. It will depart from and return to the entrance to Ruffin Gallery on Bayly Drive.
Sheng also will give an artist talk on April 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Dairy Barn.
The Morven Dairy Barn, located in southern Albemarle County off James Monroe Parkway (directions below), is open 1 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Sheng's work, which embraces a mix of video, performance, photography and object-making, frequently concerns gender, race and class. "The Miraculous Mandarin" is based on "experiences that nudge a kind of homesickness in me," she said. Born in Shanghai, Sheng immigrated to the United States when she was 7 and grew up in New Jersey, "but it's not home," she said.
"The question of where that place is and what my fluctuating relationship to 'home' might be are the immediate issues that arise. This is the core of my work – the complexities of how we situate our sense of self," Sheng said.
"What I put forth are the complications and contradictions of the psychology of dislocation. The experience of migration seems to leave me feeling as if I'm constantly straddling two shores, whether it is a physical separation of places, the mental and cerebral remapping of psyches, the linguistic and communicative misfires, or cultural divergences. There's a feeling of permanent impermanence, of never arriving at the destination because both beaches look close but I'm still treading water right in the middle of it all."
Studio Art chair Dean Dass said Sheng's work is "very powerful and embodies important and current ideas, such as questions of immigration, identity and class. Many of our students were already working between categories of, for instance, sculpture and film. Sheng brings a fresh perspectives to our practice of art and the curriculum."
Sheng earned a bachelor of fine art degree in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004 and a master of fine arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010. She is the 2011-12 recipient of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts professional fellowship and this past summer was a fellow at the Edward Albee Foundation, which aids young artists.
For information, call the McIntire Department of Art at 434-924-6123.
Directions: Morven is located at 791 Morven Dr. From Monticello, continue east on Thomas Jefferson Parkway (Route 53); bear right on James Monroe Parkway (Route 795) and continue past Ash Lawn-Highland for 1.4 miles. The entrance to Morven is on the right, noted by the "Morven" sign along a stone wall. The GPS address is 791 Morven Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22902.