For Immediate Release
June 22, 2017
Artist Completes University History Painting in Traditional Chinese Technique
CEDAR CITY, Utah — As a visiting professor and guest artist from Renmin University of
Beijing, China, Yidan Guo enjoys teaching students and working alongside her colleagues in the
Southern Utah University Art and Design department. Guo’s latest project includes the portrayal
of SUU history using Chinese watercolor.
In 2015, President Wyatt commissioned Guo to create a painting depicting the inspirational story
of the institution’s beginnings. In determining a concept direction, Wyatt pointed out that most
artwork about SUU’s origin depict cowboys or a harsh winter weather, rarely portraying the
women and children important in the institution’s establishment.
Honored and eager to take on the challenge, Guo researched the early history of SUU and gained
great respect for the Cedar City community and the school’s founders. She learned the story of
the townsmen who traveled up the mountain during a treacherous winter to retrieve supplies
needed to build the school.
After numerous drafts and sketches, the selected scene focused on a touching moment where the
townsmen returned from the mountains and celebrated a successful trip with loved ones. This
moment led to the painting’s title, The First Load of Lumber.
The artwork was painted on silk - the oldest substrate of Chinese painting - and was created with
traditional Chinese painting techniques and materials. Silk was used by ancient Chinese artists
before the invention Xuan paper, also known as rice paper. Chinese painting is traditionally
“It is a precious opportunity for me to share Chinese art with American people through this
painting,” said Guo. “This has been a very important project for me in my art career.”
Guo’s work was created in the Gongbi style, or meticulous style, that uses highly detailed
brushstrokes and is one of the oldest Chinese painting techniques. The style usually depicts
figural or narrative subjects. Guo prefers this method as it allows her to share a deeper emotion
through people’s faces and body posture.
The entire 46- by 73-inch painting took a year to complete. For Guo, art is a mode of
communication. Her artwork has been recognized as the best produced by the rising generation
of Chinese artists.
“I enjoyed the entire process because it made me feel peaceful and happy,” said Guo. “I had to
keep pushing and pushing. I just wanted to do a good job of showing a piece of SUU history.”
To see the project and find other samples of Guo’s work, check out her online portfolio. The
original painting is on display in the Southern Utah Museum of Art.
About Southern Utah University
Established in 1897, Southern Utah University evolved from a teacher training institution to
Utah's designated masters university, offering over 140 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs.
With world class project based learning, unique undergraduate research opportunities, and a
personalized learning environment (18:1) students lead projects mentored by professors. True to
the University's core vision, SUU faculty, staff and administrators enable students to honor
thought in all its finest forms, achieve excellence in their chosen field, and create positive change
in the world.