I attended Mills College back in the ‘90’s and majored in Art. Hung Lui was my enigmatic painting professor, as well as the woman who introduced me to tai chi. In the late spring, when the class was getting restless and squirrelly, she would announce in her thick Chinese accent, “Come, let’s do tai chi.” And so we’d all skulk out on the lawn and do a few cloud movements to help calm our bodies and brains.
Hung Lui is a Chinese painter, now residing in the Bay Area, born and raised in the thick of the communist revolution. She approaches her work with unsurpassed skill, beauty and extreme discipline, but leaves us with a sense of slightly haunted unease. She paints large-scale portraits of people and events of Chinese history, as well as installations such as the fortune cookie mountain. An extensive exhibit of Lui’s work will also be on display at the Oakland Museum of California from March 16-June 30, and the first Sunday of the month is free.
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The advantage to going to the exhibit at Mills College is that my three daughters get to bask in the glow of an internationally renowned college for educating and promoting women. This is a fantastic experience for both boys and girls. Women’s education has an important place in history and into the future, when it is so important that girls and boys grow up knowing that they can grow up to be anything and anyone they want to be, regardless of what they look like or how they were born. Going to a women’s college was important to me back in the 1990’s, when I was sick of all the booty-grabbing and social status of dating in high school. I didn’t want to go to school to get drunk at frat parties, or even to meet an eligible husband. Strangely, I wanted to go to college to get an education and expand my mind. It’s one of the best experiences I ever had. As they used to say in my day (and my mother’s, too—she’s a Mills graduate), ‘It’s not a girl’s school without men, it’s a women’s college without boys.’
If you go, feel free to amble around the campus. Pose the kids next to (or on) the Chinese dog statues in front of the art gallery, poke around in their library, dabble your fingers in the fountains, and bring lunch— there are plenty of grassy places for a picnic.
Hung Lui at the Mills College Art Gallery
January 23- March 17, 2013
5000 MacArthur Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94613