Left to right are Deena Gu Laties; bust she created of Gerry Lenfest; Gerry Lenfest, W&L class of 1953

Peaceful Harmony: The Art of Deena Gu Laties on Exhibit in Kamen Gallery

“Peaceful Harmony: The Art of Deena Gu Laties” is currently being showcased in the Kamen Gallery in the Lenfest Center for the Arts at Washington and Lee University and will run through Nov. 30. The exhibition features Laties’ watercolor paintings on silk and rice paper.

In honor of Gerry Lenfest’s contributions to the arts, Laties created a bronze bust and donated a copy to Washington and Lee as part of the celebration for the 20th Anniversary of the Lenfest Center for the Arts. The original resides at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Laties’ watercolors feature bold colors and lines with gold detailing. The most prominent piece, a triptych, features a pink lotus in a fashion that can be best described as a fusion of modern western influences and traditional Chinese silk painting technique. Her other works feature studies of various flora, landscapes and birds.

Most of her work showcases the same flavor of juxtaposition between style and technique. One can see in her work the intention and precision with which she paints. Each piece is clean and simple, but powerful in its understated nature. Her pieces are large but never overwrought.

Laties’ exhibition includes a detailed study of an ancient scroll from the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 A. D.) illustrating scenes from the lives of 87 immortals. The original is 24 feet in length by one foot high and serves as a model of excellence in figurative painting. It is often used in the training of Chinese artists. Laties’ featured scroll is a watercolor on silk completed in 1992.

Laties’ art education began in China under the tutelage of Cheng Shifa at the Shanghai Chinese Painting Academy in 1979. She studied and copied the paintings of the various ancient Chinese dynasties, periods characterized by important advances in art, statesmanship and economics, for four years to perfect her art. In the 1980s, Laties immigrated to the United States to continue her fine arts education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, graduating from the program a year early. In her honor, an award is given by the Academy to the most talented watercolor painting student each year.

Laties has spent the past decades establishing her reputation as a well-known artist covering subjects from sculpture to landscape to portraits and to paintings of flowers and birds. Her art has been displayed in a number of shows throughout the United States and abroad. Her knowledge and understanding of Chinese art has led to her selection as a member of the East Asia Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In addition, she now serves on the board of her alma mater, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Laties is an avid contributor to the art scene. She has taught master classes at artists’ guilds and has established a special school in Philadelphia where she teaches painting technique to Chinese girls adopted by American families. Calling them “my girls,” she enjoys helping them learn about their own cultural traditions and has even taken three of the girls on a trip back to China to help trace their ancestral roots. Laties’ artistic interests are broad and carry over to the world of music. She has established special connections to the Curtis Institute of Music and has sponsored in-home concerts to share her appreciation of music with others.

More information about this current exhibition in the Kamen Gallery and events in the Lenfest Center for the Arts can be found at lenfest.wlu.edu or contact the Lenfest Box Office at (540) 458-8000 from 9-11:00 a.m. and 2-4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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