Shoebox Conversations
Shoebox Conversations: Chung-Ping Cheng

Shoebox Conversations: Chung-Ping Cheng

Shoebox Conversations: Chung-Ping Cheng

Welcome to Shoebox Conversations. Our Shoebox PR team, Kristine Schomaker, Sheli Silverio and S. Vollie Osborn, are meeting up with artists via Zoom to discuss their art practice, new work, upcoming exhibitions, and more.

Please meet Chung-Ping Cheng

Chung-Ping Cheng graduated from National Taiwan University, where she majored in History. She spent much of her years absorbing millennia of art works and artifacts at the National Palace Museum. In the U.S., she took intensive art and photography courses, pursuing her interest in art and photography. Cheng is among a new wave of Chinese photographers to re-introduce aspects of China’s considerable aesthetic heritage within contemporary photography. Cheng’s work was included most recently in “Women in Photography in LA”, presented by Contact Photo Lab, in the Photo LA event, and also in a solo exhibition at the 1839 Contemporary Gallery in Taiwan.

I seek to synthesize aspects of my Chinese heritage with an attentiveness to rejecting expectations. Informed by 10 years experience in Chinese Painting, I am more interested in creating images that are the product of the process of studying image making, than exemplifying the status quo of photography. Inspired by the individualism and bravery of artists Georgia O’keefe and Diane Arbus, my photographic practice focuses on process, repetition and experimentation in the darkroom, more than any one genre of photography. I express my inner self through photography, all my trials and tribulations, the cycle of emotions and experiences that I have as an outsider.

Although we are in the digital era, where one can take thousands of pictures, have the images appear immediately, fast and economically, I am more old school. I use color film, a medium format camera and develop my large-scale images myself in the darkroom, which enables me to create the color and to experiment through small variations. I relish the mysteries of the developing photograph while embracing and using the elements of chance that appear. I focus on capturing Peonies and Lotuses because of their iconic cultural representation as metaphors for the life cycle. Peonies symbolize wealth and prosperity, as well as female beauty; while the Lotus symbolizes purity, enlightenment, rebirth and resurrection, since it roots in muddy water from which it rises. I shoot these symbolic flowers repetitiously over several seasons as they bloom and eventually wither and die, amplifying the inevitable process of growth and change.

My most recent series encapsulates my process oriented experimental photography. “Refining Fire/Undescribed Variations” is large -scale and has intense, highly saturated colors such as a golden yellow, fiery magenta and a deep, rich Prussian blue. In this body of work, there are mirror image diptychs with the negative and the positive image of the same shot next to each other. There are also serial images of the same composition – like Monet’s haystacks. The color sensation intentionally overwhelms the specific imagery of the flower, moving the photographs from realism into an emotive abstraction. Compositionally, the flowers – like in Georgia O’Keefe’s flower painting — are enlarged to take over the whole surface and thus become more powerful, bold and less traditional, still beautiful but no longer fragile.