AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University integrated visual arts graduate student Hang Yuan will share his master of fine arts thesis exhibition March 18–22  in the College of Design’s Gallery 181.

The exhibition, “Unveiling an Interactive and Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) Experience Through Digital Construction of a Historical Landscape Painting,” will be available to view from 8 a.m.– 5 p.m. each day, with a closing reception from 5–8 p.m. Friday, March 22.

A trip back in time

Yuan’s interactive exhibition will immerse viewers into the ancient landscape paintings of the Northern Song Dynasty (960–1127) through virtual reality. Yuan was inspired to replicate artwork from this period as “this era is still celebrated for its sophisticated brushwork and appreciation of nature, which left an indelible mark on the annals of art history,” he said.

Visitors can expect a multi-faceted display featuring digital paintings that pay homage to the Northern Song’s traditional landscape paintings. The exhibition will also feature 3D-printed versions of some of the characters from the digital paintings, bringing them to life, Yuan said.

His work encourages visitors to interact with elements in the paintings such as flowers, fish, boats and bridges. By having viewers interact with the art, Yuan says the experience allows  them to form a personal connection with the cultural richness of the period.

“I’m bridging the gap between the past and present,” Yuan said. “Each of my pieces are designed to engage viewers, inviting them to step into a world where history is recontextualized through the lens of current technology.”

About the artist

Yuan holds a bachelor of fine arts in emerging media arts (formerly theatre-film and new media) and a bachelor of arts in film studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has produced and directed several short films that have been featured at the Orlando Film Festival in Orlando, Florida, the Santorini Film Festival in Santorini, Greece, and the Nebby’s Film Festival in Lincoln Nebraska, among many others. In 2022, his short film “Papel” was a nominee for Best CGI and Visual Effects at the Lonely Wolf International Film Festival in London.

Yuan is currently a graduate administrative assistant for the ISU Graduate College, focusing on web design and development. He was previously the instructor of record for a digital media course and a graduate teaching assistant for visual culture courses in the College of Design.

Yuan is working concurrently on his master of fine arts in integrated visual arts and master of science in human computer interaction and will graduate from Iowa State in May.


Hang Yuan, Integrated Visual Arts and Human Computer Interaction graduate student,
Lauren Johnson, College of Design Communications Specialist,