About the artist:
Zhou Ling was born in Tian Jing, China in 1941. She studied Chinese history and art, as well as Western art from the Renaissance through Modernism at the Central Institute Nationalities in Beijing. Upon graduation, she married her teacher, Liu Bingjiang, causing a scandal at the time. According to official communist norms, a teacher is prohibited from having an intimate relationship with a student. Ten days after their marriage, Zhou Ling was separated from her husband and sent away to work in Yunnan Province -- an area in extreme Southwestern China, which borders on Burma, Laos, and Vietnam. She spent eight years living among the minority tribes. Zhou Ling's graduation, marriage, and assignment to Yunnan occurred on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. Her job in Kunming was to teach art in an Institute of Art and Culture for party officials. The "art" institute was actually a school for propaganda techniques, and Zhou Ling's skills were called upon to make propoganda posters. Zhou Ling said that by 1971, when the Cultural Revolution's political energy began to wind down, she was able to paint by herself. In 1973, she finally returned to Beijing to be reunited with her husband and child who was born in 1968. The child had been kept in Beijing with grandparents because Zhou Ling had no facilities to care for the baby where she worked. In 1974, Zhou Ling became an art teacher at the Central Institute of Nationalities in Beijing where she taught many students of the minority nationalities among whom she had lived in Yunnan Province. Zhou Ling has been influenced by ancient frescoes, painted pottery, and sculptures. She paints beautiful, earth mother-type women. Large and powerful, they more than confirm Chairman Mao's maxim that "women hold up more than half the sky." In 1991, Zhou Ling traveled to Hawaii. She had been commissioned to do a series of paintings for the Grand Wailea Resort & Spa. Zhou Ling was overwhelmed by the natural beauty of Maui. The tropical environment reminded her of earlier life in the verdant jungles of Yunnan Province. The landscape, its flora and fauna, and people who were Polynesian in appearance brought back memories of the ethnic minority groups of her homeland.