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Works transcend architecture roots

David Wang with his oil pastel on craft paper titled “Bread and Fish,” outside his home designed by architect Ken Brooks. (Dan Pelle)
David Wang with his oil pastel on craft paper titled “Bread and Fish,” outside his home designed by architect Ken Brooks. (Dan Pelle)

David Wang plans to open his art studio to the public

David Wang did art long before he decided to become an architect.

Born in Taiwan, Wang came to the States when he was 6. While his parents studied science and math, he drew with pen and ink, capturing perfect renditions of his surroundings. Coming from a family of intellectuals and artists including sculptors, writers, and a professor of art in Beijing, it was only natural that he became a mix of both, focusing on the history and theories of aesthetics.

“I’m attracted to the idea of ‘what is beauty,’ ” he said. “I’m driven by the pursuit of the beautiful.”

Wang spent his early years in Cleveland and earned a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. He remained in Pennsylvania for about 15 years, working as an architect, studying theology on the side to better understand the transcendent origin of beauty, and creating architectural renderings that sold quite well. One of his pieces is in the permanent collection of the Woodmere Art Gallery in Chestnut Hill, Pa.

After earning a doctorate from the University of Michigan, Wang joined the architecture faculty at Washington State University where he has been for the past 15 years. All the while, he had a sketchbook in hand, capturing his travels across the globe in pencils or pens.

A couple of years ago, he left his pens and pencils behind.

“I took a road trip by myself to Arizona and I made a conscious decision not to take along pencils or pens. All I took with me were some oil pastels and various markers,” he said.

Stopping at the Boise Art Museum, he began to scribble all over the paper and he felt the subject come alive. Now, his representational drawings feel like doing homework, he said.

“There’s real freedom in just letting go with the colors of the oil pastels,” he said.

Using oil pastels and mixed media, he now creates intuitively; less from what he knows and more from what he feels, drawing inspiration from nature, the Scriptures and life experiences.

He has exhibited his work at Artisans at Dahmen Barn in Uniontown, Wash.; at 29th Avenue Artworks in Spokane; and at a WSU faculty art exhibit. 

Through October, he will be the featured artist at the Design Collaborative, 204 N. Division St.

About a year ago, he designed and built an art studio on his property in the spirit of Ken Brooks, the architect of Wang’s house on the western outskirts of town. On Oct. 7, he will open his studio to the public to share his visions of beauty.

“True art is when transcendence comes through us, and when it does, you are aware of an organism at work that is more than the sum of your own ideas and intentions. I see it as an object of healing, in the sense that, there in front of me is a small patch of wholeness in an otherwise broken world,” he said.

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