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Zhan Tan

Zhan Tan sees her show on the Corner Gallery’s Young Artist wall as the very beginning of her new identity as a professional artist. After her Ukiah debut she will be relocating to the east coast this fall to start a new life staying with her fiancée and exploring the art community in the New York area. 

“I will be working towards the goal of becoming an independent artist,” she says with a smile that is both earnest and shy. “I’ll also continue exploring the transcendental experience of living a meditative life while dedicating myself to art,” she continues. “I perceive myself as having a spiritual connection to art.”

Even the name “Zhan Tan” arises from a spiritual connection. It is not the artist’s given name... rather it was chosen for her by a Buddhist monk. It refers to the ancient Sandskrit description for the fragrance of sandalwood. “It’s a feeling, not a thing,” she says, “and it is very special to me.” When asked for an English translation, Zhan Tan was at a loss for words, but she immediately wrote the characters, as though that would explain everything to this non-Chinese-speaking American. 

Zhan Tan grew up in Southern China. “My life was fully packed with homework and heavy school work,” she recounts. “I didn’t have any chance to really explore my own interests until I was in high school, which was the time I came across the meditative experience of living in a Buddhist temple in my hometown. I just finished my BA degree in Ukiah from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.“

When asked what inspired her to start making art, Zhan Tan replied, “Life is boring, art is fun. When you notice there’s not much you need to attend to in this world, you start to realize that simply staying in an artistic and focused state of mind, rather than intentionally trying to achieve something, allows you to express yourself in a natural and spontaneous way. Creating art allows me to simply stay in a meditative state of being. It’s not what I do, it is what I am.”

And… not surprisingly in the case of this lovely artist who perfectly personifies a butterfly, she says “My influences are my moods. I’m Happy Zhan Tan, sad Zhan Tan, moody Zhan Tan and so on. I really appreciate this precious opportunity to be able to share my creations with the world from the Ukiah Corner gallery. I wish for world peace and love in everyone.”

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