Message from the Director

Artist Hung Liu at the SJMA 2018 Wonder Ball Gala. Photo by Drew Altizer Photography.

Hung Liu, Shoah, 2006. Archival digital pigment print and hand painting cast in resin on silk and board, 60 x 120 x 2 inches. San José Museum of Art. Gift of the Lipman Family Foundation, 2006.19.01–.05.

In Memoriam
Hung Liu 1948–2021

Our friend and sister, artist Hung Liu, passed away on Saturday, August 7. She was 73 and died shortly after being diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer. A prolific artist, her career spanned decades and she was honored with numerous international exhibitions, fellowships, and awards—she was on the eve of her groundbreaking solo exhibition opening at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), Smithsonian, Washington, DC on August 27.

As SJMA curator Rory Padeken wrote in a recent tribute, “Liu championed the lives and experiences of the disenfranchised and the dispossessed. For over three decades, she bore witness to the tribulations of everyday people, past and present, and their hidden stories of social injustice in lush and remarkable paintings based on historical black and white photographs from China and, most recently, Great Depression–era images taken by Dorothea Lange.”

We celebrated Hung’s work in exhibitions including Questions from the Sky: New Work by Hung Liu (2013) but also sought her counsel as a Museum undergoing transformation. We were delighted when Hung joined the Board of Trustees in 2018 and thrilled to honor her at the Museum’s 2018 Gala + Auction. This year, she co-chaired SJMA’s 2021 Gala + Auction and led the jury for the first annual Dr. Jerry Hiura NextGen Visual Artist Award, a scholarship given to young artists in San José.

In 50X50: Stories of Visionary Artists in the Permanent Collection, our digital publication about permanent collection artists, Hung wrote a compelling introduction. SJMA was an early Museum supporter of Hung’s work, hosting exhibitions, and collecting her work for 30 years. We are proud to hold one of the most important collections of Liu’s work including Resident Alien (1988), a pivotal self-portrait, recreated as a massive mural by Magnolia Editions on view at the de Young Museum in Hung Liu: Golden Gate (金門). Resident Alien and Chinese Profile II (1998), also from SJMA’s collection, are featured in Hung Liu: Portraits of Promised Lands, at the NPG.

As a dedicated celebration of Hung’s life and work, we are installing Hung’s monumental painting Shoah, (2006) prominently in the lobby. Please join us in an appreciation of the life and work of Hung Liu, in tandem with the exciting new fall programs highlighted on the website.

With warm regards,

S. Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director