WK 3 – Artist Conversation – Manyu Gao


Exhibition Information

Artist: Manyu Gao

Exhibition: Concentrated Studies in Life Painting

Media: Oil on canvas

Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West  

Instagram: @manyugao

About the Artist

Manyu Gao, is an undergraduate foreign exchange student from China. It is her last semester at CSULB, and has been here almost 2 years since her transfer. She is currently applying to grad school to continue studying, but she isn’t sure where she would like to attend. She is in the School of Arts Drawing and Painting program and would like to get her masters in painting, and I believe she can accomplish it because her paintings are impeccable.

Formal Analysis

Her oil painting is depicting a woman sitting down in a McDonalds by herself; although there is no logo on the food, one can assume it is because of the detail and structure of the food. It has a gas station across the street and is located at an intersection. The lines of the painting are very straight, but the texture is very bumpy and it gives it a very real feeling. The painting has a staccato style because the person is disconnected from the world itself. This particular piece was created for her 492Z upper division course. It took a whole semester to finish;  before the midterm, she created a lot of sketches and after it discussed technique to make it into a larger scale.

Content Analysis

Manyu’s oil painting portrays her and how she left when she came to the United States. Since she’s a foreign exchange student, when she got here she felt very alone. She came alone, with no family or friends and that’s what is illustrated. The food defines how she had to leave her culture behind and adapt to the Western Culture. It shows how different the culture is from where she is, compared to how it is here.


I can really relate to Manyu’s oil painting because the same happened to me when I came from Mexico. Although I came when I was smaller, it resembles the same ideas. I had to adapt to the different music, language, and foods. When I go back to Mexico, I’m seen as an outsider even though that is where I come from! They see me as something different because I’ve gotten used to my life here. I’ve become accustomed to the norms in this society, however, they still expect me to conform to theirs. Sometimes I feel like I can’t completely be myself here because not many people can relate to where we’re coming from. Although I have many friends, that went through the same thing, we’ve kind of had to do the same when going to college. I feel like I can’t express myself completely and that is my fear, that’s why I’m very reserved at times.

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