Bernice Bing was a Chinese American artist, educator, and activist who made significant contributions to the San Francisco Bay Area art scene. She was born in San Francisco in 1936 and grew up in a multicultural community where she was exposed to various art forms, including Chinese brush painting and calligraphy. Her exposure to different cultures and art forms would greatly influence her work as an artist.
Bing received her formal education at the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) in Oakland, where she studied painting, drawing, and printmaking. After graduating, she went on to teach at the college and also became involved in the local art scene.
In the 1960s, Bing became part of a group of artists known as the “San Francisco School,” which included artists such as Bruce Conner, Jay DeFeo, and Joan Brown. This group of artists rejected the dominant art styles of the time, such as Abstract Expressionism, and instead embraced a more experimental and interdisciplinary approach to art-making. Bing’s work during this time reflected this approach, as she explored the boundaries between painting, drawing, and printmaking.
One of Bing’s most significant contributions to the art world was her involvement in the feminist art movement. In the 1970s, she co-founded the Women’s Caucus for Art in San Francisco, an organization that aimed to promote women artists and address issues of gender inequality in the art world. Bing’s own work during this time also explored themes of gender and identity, as she sought to challenge traditional gender roles and expectations.
Bing’s art was often characterized by its use of bold colors and abstract forms. She drew inspiration from the natural world, particularly the landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as her Chinese heritage. Bing’s work was also influenced by her experiences as a lesbian and as a person of color, and she often used her art to explore issues of race, sexuality, and identity.
Despite her significant contributions to the art world, Bing’s work was often overlooked during her lifetime. It wasn’t until after her death in 1998 that her work began to receive greater recognition. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in Bing’s art, with exhibitions of her work being held at galleries and museums across the United States.
Bernice Bing was a trailblazer in the art world, and her work continues to inspire and challenge audiences today. Through her art and activism, she broke down barriers and paved the way for future generations of artists to follow in her footsteps.