Jewel in the Heart:
Emily Cheng and Lois Conner

MAY 20th ”V JULY 3rd
Plum Blossoms Gallery
555 West 25th Street, New York, NY 10001 T: 212.719.7008
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10:30am - 6:30pm
Sunday and Monday Closed

Plum Blossoms Gallery (New York) is pleased to announce Jewel in the Heart, an exhibition of paintings by Emily Cheng and photographs by Lois Conner. The show”¦s title is a reference to the Buddhist mantra Om mani padme hum, ”„Salutation to the jewel in the lotus”¦, that many take to be a metaphorical comparison of human life and compassion to the dewdrops that gather in the flower of the lotus. The work in this exhibition by the two very different artists emerges out of a figurative conversation they share relating to the lotus, a powerful icon in Asian cultures representing enlightenment, rebirth, and purity.
Emily Cheng perceives the lotus in its abstracted form, as a symbol refined through creative processes. Playing with variations of lotus imagery from the disparate Buddhist and Chinese traditions, the artist also incorporates details from Renaissance art and other sources into studied bloomings of
chemical color as aerosol as they are oxidized. Her large-scale oil canvases measure time in intricate patterns and symphonic overlays of catastrophe, aftermath, and regeneration. Guided by the lotus, they unfurl a new mandala: the mind pushing into a realm of contemplative romp. Through reiterations of concentric lines, ruminations upon an idealized center and through referentiality of imagery, the exuberant expression of an accumulated personal literacy finds form.
Emily Cheng studied at the New York Studio School, New York, before earning a B.F.A. in Painting in 1975 from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island. Exhibiting since 1983, she has had recent solo-shows at Winston Wachter Mayer, New York, and Schmidt/Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, both in 2002. Other solo-shows include: Byron Cohen Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri; The Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Philippines; Hanart T.Z. Gallery, Hong Kong; and The Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, Ohio. Emily is also a fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts (1982-1983) and the New York Foundation for the Arts (1996). 

Lois Conner”¦s black and white photographs of lotus leaves reveal patterns of decay suspended between light and water. Made with a 7 x 17 inch banquet camera, the artist”¦s detailed compositions dance along the intersection between calligraphy and cinema, as curvilinear stalks and irregular leaves flicker in delicate shadows and inky washes across the length of her images. The dimension of her prints invite the eye to take in the picture one element at a time, recalling the scroll landscapes of Chinese scholar art, as well as, grass-style Chinese calligraphy (caoshu), in which simple lines can become visual metaphors. Poised at the moment when space and light collapse upon each other, these photographs peer into the heart of experience, memory, regret, redemption, the continuous, the forgotten, the imagined, and the object itself, the lotus.

Lois Conner holds a B.F.A. in Photography from the Pratt Institute, New York (1975), and a M.F.A. from Yale University, Connecticut (1981). An early interest in China led to a 1984 Guggenheim Grant to travel and photograph there. Since then, she has made numerous trips to the mainland and currently has a solo exhibition, Lois Conner, at the China Academy of Art, Hangzhou. Other recent solo shows include To Be, at Laurence Miller Gallery, New York (2003), and Yuan Ming Yuan at Sherman Gallery, Sydney, Australia (2001). Recent group shows include Encounter, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (2004); The Land Through A Lens, Smithsonian, National Museum of American Art (2003); and Life of the City: Photographs from the Permanent Collection, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2001).
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