Profiles and Interviews With Interesting New Yorkers

An Artist Grows In Brooklyn

By Nick Christophers

There are not many types of artists like Tianlan Deng who creates vast art work that is not only impressive but also interactive. He has made America his location to spread his artistic wings. Mr. Deng is currently attending Pratt Institute from 2017-2020 and will complete his MFA in interior architecture. While he worked on painting in his native China, he discovered a new medium that offered him great artistic freedom. That new medium was installation practice, text-based art, and projected media.

While in America he became fascinated to explore contemporary art and break the boundary of traditional art. When he was studying at the University of Kentucky, he began producing installations based on experimental quality and usually associated with a text-based form because of earlier influence in calligraphy. Mr. Deng sees digital technology as a unique source to express art.

Coming to America after working and developing his art in his native land he has found more possibilities to expand his styles. He admits that he has been able to grow and benefit from his individuality as an artist and instructor. Through his American education he has developed drastically in many ways. 

Mr. Deng has had many exhibitions under his belt in New York, Kentucky, Copenhagen, and Shanghai. As far as awards go, he won a grand commission of the Glass Wall Design of Gatton Building, Gatton College of Business and Economics. In addition, his works have become permanent collections at Gatton College of Business and Economics (US), Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center (US), (Fairmont) Pace Hotel (CN), and Tianjin Crowne Plaza (CN). He had two major shows and artist talk at Mill & Max Contemplative Arts Gallery and The Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center in Lexington, KY. Each one was attended by 50+ guests.

Besides being an artist, he has also offered his educational role to other artists. He was an instructor for two years in the fine art college of the University of Kentucky. Mr. Deng taught drawing and 2D surface both are foundation courses of the fine art college. At the moment Mr. Deng is working on a project for the Rockaway Park High School in New York. The project’s purpose is to enhance its current prison-like atmosphere by bringing the idea of elegance and playfulness in the interior of the building. It would hope to offer students an environment to inspire them in many ways. It will also help the school to target media exposure and advertisement for recruiting.

“This project is an installation that I’m going to create for Rockaway Park High School at Beach Channel Educational Campus. It will be a series of the chamber like structures with projected video on them. The installation will be on varying scales from small sculpture to life-size chambers with which students can interact.”

There is a fraction of public schools in urban areas that have less than attractive interior with low student bodies and less funding. He hopes to revive their conditions to create a brighter environment for students mostly from low-income and or homeless backgrounds. The installation is due to be installed by 2021 summer. 

At the current time Mr. Deng is gearing up for a solo show at the Times Arts Gallery this summer depending on the issue of the pandemic. The show will explore the similarities between Chinese and American education systems. The project will combine light, shadow, diorama and projected media to highlight these similarities that are most of time not expressed. He is also planning to create a site-specific installation for J-collabo in Brooklyn. The installation will involve project media. 

Mr. Deng’s hope is to bring forth the importance of artistic expression and its desire to be free not to deter the artist from ever exploring his inner desires at any time. 

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