Studio Nong is an international collective of artists and educators from the GuangXi Arts Institute in Nanning, China, the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Memphis College of Art in Memphis, Tennessee, that divides its time between Southern China and the United States. The eight members are: Professor Zhenhai He (GAI), Professor Jigang Qin (GAI), Associate Professor Bangmin Nong (GAI), Lecturer Shanwu Huang (GAI) and their American counterparts, Associate Professor Jessie Fisher (KCAI), Assistant Professor Misty Gamble (KCAI), Lecturer Scott Seebart (KCAI) and Associate Professor Leandra Urrutia (MCA). The collective, who first worked together in QinZhou, China in the summer of 2013, are preparing for their third residency program, this year held at the Studio Nong Studios in Jingde Zhen and Nanning City, China. Together with interns and students, this groups creates work that reflects their shared interest in figurative sculpture through the expansive lens of the diverse traditions and cultures within the group.
Professor Zhenhai He, born in 1958 in LiuZhou City, China, graduated in 1985 from the Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute (B.A.) and in 1988 from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts (M.F.A.). His work, influenced by temple architecture, has been shown in over fifty invitational exhibitions in China and abroad. A sculptor who works primarily in steel, wood and clay, He is sought after to create monumental public works. He has been a visiting artist the Goethe Institute in Munich, Germany; West Virginia University; Tsinghua University; New Zealand Chinese Society; and the City of Cincinnati. In 2014, He was one of 15 artists chosen internationally to participate in a month-long monumental granite-sculpting exhibition in Taiwan. Currently, Professor He is the Director of the Sculpture program at the GuangXi Arts Institute.
Professor Jigang Qin, born in 1959 in LiuZhou City, China, graduated in 1987 from the GuangXi Arts Institute (B.A) and in 1997 from the Japan Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music (M.A) in sculptural arts, studying with a pupil of Mailol. His current practice, stemming from his initial focus in Academic figuration, has progressed into the study of human and natural vessel forms influenced by the poetics of Chinese landscape painting. In addition to exhibiting widely in Japan and China, he designed and created public work including: Water and Land, a memorial wall of Nanning City; The LiuZhou Flood Fighting Monument, in LiuZhou, Jiangbin Park; and The Auspicious Nuo in The Prosperous Society, at the GuangXi Huangiang County Ethic Cultural Square. He is currently a professor of sculpture of GuangXi Arts Institute.
Associate Professor Bangmin Nong, born in 1981 in Tianyang, China, graduated in 2005 and 2009, from the GuangXi Arts Institute (B.A., M.A.), and West Virginia University, in 2012 (M.F.A). Nong creates figurative clay sculpture that focuses attention on the intersection of architecture and human psychology. Nong’s accomplishments belie his age. His technical achievements have afforded him opportunities as an educator and an ambassador of artistic exchange. He has exhibited in the United States and China, including the GuangXi Museum of Fine Arts. While studying in the United States, he represented West Virginia University with a scholarship to study at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute and was a resident at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Maine, where he began the collaboration that has become the Studio Nong International Sculpture Collective and Residency Program. Nong is currently an Associate Professor at the GuangXi Arts Institute.
Lecturer Shanwu Huang, born in 1974, in Pingguo, China, graduated in 2000 from the GuangXi Arts Institute (B.A.). Through Huang’s use of the multiple and mixed media in his current body of work, he centers his context on the displacement of identity. He has been recognized as “Teacher of Excellence” by the China Arts and Crafts Association and his work is housed in two prominent public collections: GuangXi College of Art Museum and the GuangXi Arts Museum of Fine Arts. Specializing in ink painting, calligraphy and metalsmithing, he is currently a Lecturer at the GuangXi Arts Institute.
Associate Professor Jessie Fisher holds a B.F.A. degree in fine art from the University of Minnesota and an M.F.A. degree in painting and drawing, with a minor in printmaking, from the University of Iowa. She has studied at the Scoula Internationale della Grafica in Venice, Italy, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and apprenticed with Studio Balma, Minneapolis. Fisher has exhibited nationally and internationally, including, the Weisman Museum of Art, the Des Moines Art Center, the American Museum of Art, the Guilin Museum of Art, in Guilin China, the Palazzo dei Cartelloni and Maidoff Center for the Arts in Florence, Italy and the Galleria Il Bocca al Lupo at the International Center for the Arts in Montecastello di Vibio, Italy. Fisher has been a visiting lecturer and critic at the Maryland Institute College of Art, the University of South Carolina, St. Ambrose University and an artist in residence at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, the Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy, and the Visual Arts and Design Academy in Santa Barbara, CA. Fisher is a recipient of the Ohio Young Painters Prize from Miami University. Fisher is currently an Associate Professor in Painting and at the Kansas City Art Institute and a visiting critic at the International Center for the Arts in Montecastello di Vibio, Italy.
Assistant Professor Misty Gamble creates work inspired by the human figure and its infinite capacity for communication. This makes sense given that, as a child, Misty was immersed in her father’s world of puppetry and the performing arts. Gamble’s current work, life-size ceramic figurative sculptures and installations of multiple figurative fragments, focuses attention on issues surrounding femininity and challenges conventional standards of morality, normalcy and propriety. Misty has been awarded long-term residencies at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts and the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Additionally, Gamble was invited to lead an Artist-Invite Artist Residency at Watershed and was an invited artist at Project Art in Cummington, Massachusetts. She has been a guest artist (both long term and short term) at Watershed, Project Art, C.R.E.T.A Rome, and The Armory. Gamble is an Assistant Professor in the School of Foundation at the Kansas City Art Institute. Before receiving her MFA from San Francisco State University in the visual arts, she worked as an agent, publicist, and event producer in music and the performing arts.
Lecturer Scott Seebart received his BFA from the University of Minnesota, a Post-Baccalaureate degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and his MFA with a minor in Printmaking from the University of Iowa. He has studied at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands and at the Scoula della Grafica in Venice, Italy. Seebart has taught at the University of Iowa, Wartburg University, the University of Missouri, Kansas City and is currently a Lecturer in Painting at the Kansas City Art Institute. Seebart is a visiting critic at the International Center for the Arts in Montecastello di Vibio, Italy and has shown internationally in group and solo exhibitions including, the American Museum of Art in Philadelphia, PA, the Guilin Museum of Art, in Guilin China, the Palazzo dei Cartelloni and the Maidoff Center for the Arts in Florence, Italy, the Galleria Il Bocca al Lupo at the International Center for the Arts in Montecastello di Vibio, Italy. Seebart lives and works in Kansas City, Missouri with the painter Jessie Fisher and their son Valentine.
Associate Professor Leandra Urrutia born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Urrutia began drawing and sculpting at an early age, influenced by the rich culture and traditions of her Mexican American heritage. Through her art, Ms. Urrutia addresses discordant elements of intimacy including attraction, repulsion, balance, disparity, perseverance and power. Figurative based sculpture, installation, and wall work dominate the body of her portfolio. Ms. Urrutia exhibits her work locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. In 2007 she was awarded, "Emerging Artist" by the National Council for the Education of the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2014 she was the recipient of the 2014 Emmett O’Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration in Memphis Tennessee. Her work is included in the Sandford M. and Diane Besser collection and is part of the Kinsey Institute's permanent collection. Lark Books: 500 figures in Clay and 500 Ceramic Sculptures feature samples of her pieces. Ms. Urrutia's building expertise ranges from trompe l'oeil to abstraction with various technical proficiencies, including image transfer, mould making, and slip casting. In addition to sculpting, Ms. Urrutia creates utilitarian, high-fire, reduction ware and is a member of the Memphis Potter's Guild in Memphis Tennessee. Ms. Urrutia is currently an Associate Professor of Studio Art and currently serves the faculty and administration of Memphis College of Art.