The continuing theme of Ming Fay’s art since the early 1970s is the mimesis of nature transformed through keen observation of plant life. “I am inspired when something unknown or ambiguous in nature catches my eye,” Fay explains, “despite the fact that what is seen seems to be clear and perceivable.” Like Paul Wong, Fay has infused aspects of Chinese culture, philosophy and popular mythology into his work, successfully grafting together Eastern and Western traditions. His study of Taoism, which recognizes humanity as one element in the continuum of nature, suggests it is possible through balance and change to obtain good fortune and esoteric knowledge about longevity by magical alchemy. Fay’s fascination with the garden and its implications of cyclical decay and renewal have informed his still-life depictions of strangely human scale fruit and vegetables and more recent garden archetypes. Nature visible, the animal and vegetable, is the explicit theme of Ming Fay’s sculpture. His cast paper models of waternuts “Lings (horns)” have the presence of iron, or encrusted bone, but they are light.
Born in Shanghai, Ming moved to the United States in 1961 to study at the Columbus College of Art and Design and then the Kansas City Institute of Art. Ming later went on to receive an MFA in sculpture from UC Santa Barbara.
Workspace Program artist-in-residence 1990