Lin Fei Fei
Like the sun, Lin Fei Fei rose in the east and as she’s traveled west she has shown the light, the warmth and the beauty of her talents on all the people around her. She’s a powerful example of possibility – an example of dedication – of results reaped from hard work.
Born in the north eastern province of Liaoning China, outside the city of Shenyang where the weather is harsh and the people grow up with a strong resolve. Lin Fei Fei, showing her strength at an early age, resisted the traditional expectations of a young woman in her culture and dedicated her time and energy to becoming a master painter, working hard in a male dominated culture to earn the respect of her teachers and contemporaries. She has succeeded in tremendous fashion.
Her paintings are a beautiful blend of emotion and movement. In 2014 she graduated Valedictorian with her masters in oil painting from Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts in Shenyang. During the years of earning her masters Lin Fei Fei was awarded multiple scholarships and traveled as an exchange student to ten different countries working on many different art projects. She’s been featured in magazines around the world and now resides in Northern California where she continues to grow and excel as an artist.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I knew from the time I was six years old. I didn’t know how hard it would be but I never feel regret. This is my Destiny.
Is there a focus on Art where you grew up or is the path you’ve chosen considered an abnormal choice?
My parents grew up in the countryside During the Mao Zedong period, a more traditional time. When I was five they moved us to the city and the cultural difference was insane. I grew up with TV and culture from America mixing with the eastern culture of the past. Although we didn’t have color TV or many channels I grew up wondering what the outside world looked like and developed a desire to travel at an early age.
The culture where I grew up expects a woman to get married and dedicate your life to taking care of your husband and family – Not to have big dreams of travel and success. No one really supported me except my parents. I didn’t set out to get my masters to brag or to prove something. I saw it as a way to escape this reality.
After three years in High school I took the Gaokao college placement test and failed. I still remember my aunt telling me I should quit and be a normal girl. But I worked relentlessly for my fourth year because I wanted to change my destiny – My family’s destiny. I stayed in my room and studied constantly, only sleeping four hours a night, my parents helping by cooking for me and taking care of me. My only focus was my studies. At the end of the year my score for the test was number nine in all of China.
That is amazing! A great example of dedication and strength in the face of opposition. Your parents must have been proud.
Yes, my parents and teachers. It was a dramatic time.
So after passing with such high honors you were admitted to Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts. Can you talk a little about college life in China and how it compares to the United States where it’s easy to party your way out of school?
In China it’s more about having to succeed. You don’t see a lot of “party animals”. Lu Xun is the number three
art school in China. It’s a very prominent college and students feel honored to be there. The painting department is one of the best and a lot of famous artists come out of this school. I didn’t want to waste my time there. Every day I just stayed in my studio.
In your time at Lu Xun you were awarded multiple scholarships and traveled as an exchange student. Is their one experience that stands out as a favorite experience?
After graduating Valedictorian with my masters I was awarded a big scholarship. Without hesitation I used the money to experience my dream – a residency in Italy. I spent all the money there but it was worth it. I lived in a five hundred year old castle for forty six days. It was both interesting and scary.
Were you able to create a lot there or was it more about absorbing the experience of Italy?
I did create a lot. They kept three of my paintings in exchange for the experience but hey took care of everything and gave us money to travel to Rome and Florence to see some of the different artists there. They also provided maids for cleaning, art materials and four meals a day. It was a beautiful experience.
While getting your masters you were also admitted to the New Expressionism Art Studio. Is this considered a prestigious Studio? Is it at the Lu Xun Academy?
Every year it’s a different studio that grants access to the accepted students. We don’t have a choice on the studio. But acceptance is difficult to earn – the testing for entrance is very serious and difficult. All our professors at the academy are famous artists in China and they vote on who is accepted. Only a few students out of thousands are chosen.
How does acceptance into these studios affect your career long term?
People in China really care about your background, your knowledge and your accomplishments. So if I’m able to say I’m from this studio at Lu Xun Academy I will be perceived as a higher level artist.
In 2016 you were chosen to be one of ten artists awarded the title: “Contemporary Chinese Artists of the Future” by the Wang Shi Kuo Art Foundation in Beijing. Is this something you have to apply for or are you selected based on all your previous accomplishments?
It is the latter. You have to be chosen by a group of famous artists. Of everyone chosen I was the only female and the only person under thirty. It was
an overwhelming honor to be selected.
What brought you to Sacramento California?
After I spent time in Italy I returned to Shenyang to start my studio “Fly Art Space”. I built the studio from nothing. My first class was five people in a coffee shop and eventually we had thousands of people coming through. I would teach them how to create and understand art. I was like a teacher. I really enjoyed it but I turned it over to my cousin when I moved to California.
My Husband who was my boyfriend at the time didn’t like living in China. He’s an American from Michigan. Ninety percent of the decision to move was to support him. We chose California because it’s warmer here than Michigan. It’s not home for either of us but it was a compromise.
How long have you been in California and do you miss being home in China?
We’ve been here about a year and three months. I do miss my home. But things have been going really well. I’ve been lucky to meet some amazing people and have been involved in a lot of art shows.
Lin Fei Fei is currently featured at ‘Art Street’ – 300 1st Ave. Sacramento – an M5arts production running through February. Her exhibit illustrates the twenty four seasons of the Chinese calendar. It is influenced by the paper cuts first taught to her by her grandmother and represents her roots in traditional Chinese culture. It’s a tribute to her family and an absolutely beautiful installation. Art Street is a free event and I urge you to go and see Lin Fei Fei’s work.
To See More from Lin Fei Fei:
Special Thanks to Gabriel Sanford for the Introduction.