East meets West in collaborative art exhibition at Reagan National Airport

Dr. Gong with one of his "Flying Tigers" paintings

The walls and exhibit cases at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport’s Gallery Walk feature a unique international collaboration of artworks. Beihang University’s Dr. Haoqin Gong and Radford University’s graphic design program present a diverse exhibition of traditional paintings and American design.

Hanging on the walls of Terminal A is a series of WWII-themed paintings by Gong, an associate professor at Beihang University in Beijing, China. This year he is a guest artist of the Radford University Department of Art, working with master watercolorist Z.L. Feng.

“In the spirit of international exchange and relationship building, it has been a very enriching experience for the college to have Dr. Gong as guest artist for this year,” said Margaret Devaney, dean of Radford’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. ”The joint exhibition at Reagan National Airport continues to strengthen the ties between our two universities and has afforded our faculty and students with a wonderful opportunity to exhibit their work. The college enthusiastically looks forward to working with Beihang University on collaborative art projects in the not too distant future!”

In recent years, Gong has engaged in aviation paintings and published multiple collections: “Look Up At The Starry Sky, Wondering Brush Stroke” and “academism elite.” He is well-known for his painting exhibition on China's space exploration, “Flying with the Wings of Art,” displayed during the 58th session of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

For the paintings displayed at the airport, Gong spent five years collecting historical data and photographs about the Flying Tigers, the first American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force in 1941 – 1942. Retired U.S. Army Corps officer Claire Lee Chennault brought 100 outdated Warhawk fighter planes to China, along with 99 American pilots and ground crew to join the prolonged Sino-Japanese war in 1941. The Chinese people greeted the Flying Tigers team with love and esteem.

Today, the Flying Tigers are a symbol of two cultures on both sides of the Pacific working toward a common goal in war and peace. Both China and the United States praise these fighter pilots as one of the most precious national memories. On Aug. 1, 2016, the Flying Tigers celebrate their 75th anniversary. The airport also celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

Professors John O'Connor and Ken Smith installing the graphic design work in a showcase at Reagan National Airport.

In addition to Gong’s paintings, this exhibition also includes art and design work created by Radford University award-winning graphic design professors and students. Radford is located in southwest Virginia.

Graphic design professor John O’Connor’s work shows a lifelong fascination with the possibilities of other worlds and other times. He uses random image generation techniques to inspire his creations, which come to life when placed into familiar and not-so familiar environments.

Professor Ken Smith creates art and design with a historical context. Like Gong, often Smith’s focus is on wartime topics. Many of his paintings are used to illustrate military history board games, game boxes and magazines.

The student work presented here includes packaging designs and other projects. Many of these have won awards from the American Advertising Federation, such as regional gold and silver ADDYs, Judges’ Choice and a recent National Silver ADDY.

Participating students and recent graphic design alumni include Nealon Buchanan, Alyssa Carlson, Ty Cornett, Paul Gartner (recent winner of a student Silver National ADDY), Danielle Glumsic, Alyssa Pull Hardbower, Jacob Hardbower, Crystal Jernigan, Rachel Jones, Peter Mattox, Shawna Hession, Emily Martin, Brooke Moody, Erica Smith, Billy Sours and Wendy Viana.

This exhibition runs through the end of September at the Gallery Walk in Terminal A, Reagan National Airport, located in the D.C. region. For more information about the art on display visit flyreagan.com/dca/arts-program.

At the end of this exhibition in October, Gong’s work comes to the Radford University Art Museum Downtown in Radford. To learn more about the Radford University Department of Art, go to their website at www.radford.edu/art.

Jul 19, 2016