Born in Nanjing, Jiangsu, in 1934, Yang Yanping is one of the most distinguished contemporary ink painters from China. She studied architecture at Beijing's Tsinghua University, where she married one of her painting teachers, Zeng Shanqing. After she graduated in 1958, and a brief spell of teaching factory design, Yang decided to study art at the Oil Painting Department of the Beijing Art Academy. At the same time she studied traditional Chinese painting on her own. In 1986, both Yang and her husband were awarded fellowships from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and they have remained in America ever since. Yang is well versed in many traditional styles but has excelled in depicting the lotus flower, a symbol of purity, transience, the fragility of nature, and the potential for regeneration. She works in a traditional mode of the free sketch (xieyi) but has also developed creative techniques, including crumpling the paper and soaking or pressing inked paper on a previously painted paper surface. For Yang, what matters are the ideals of high visual quality and an artistic autonomy that allows her to embrace modernism without jettisoning the lessons from the classical Chinese world of high culture.