Biography [Full Resume]



Conceptual and performance artist Michael Zheng was born and grew up in China. He studied computer science at the prestigious Tsinghua University in China. He had a successful career working in Silicon Valley as an entrepreneur and computer software designer. Later he left his job to attend San Francisco Art Institute, where he studied with Paul Kos, Tony Labat and John Roloff. While at SFAI, he was awarded a fellowship from Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, where he studied with Nary Ward and Xu Bing.

Michael creates situations that often feel like aberrations and yet on second look somehow point more aptly to the essence of things, questioning the established positions so that new perspectives can be experienced. His thinking is influenced by his interest in Ch’an Buddhism’s notion of the intrinsic nature (性)of all things. Being present is at the core of his practice. He often uses the spatial, historical and other contextual characteristics of the site or situation as the formal materials to create his work. His works are characterized by a performative nature and are often shown in the form of site-specific interventions, photographs, video, and sculptural installations. Many of his works are infused with sincerity, absurdity and humor, and often engender a poetic feeling.


Michael has exhibited his work worldwide. His main exhibitions include:

He received artist residencies from the prestigious MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire in 2005 and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 2003. In 2005, 2007, and 2012 he was nominated for the SECA Award from San Francisco MOMA. He was acknowledged by the Artadia award in 2007. In 2008, he was nominated for the Bay Area Now 5 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He was nominated for the Eureka Fellowship by Fleishhacker Foundation in 2010. His intervention project with the Baltic Triennial was selected as No.2 of the best art shows by Pravda magazine in Lithuania, 2006 (No.1 was the Lithuanian entry to the Venice Biennale that year.)

His works have been reviewed in Sculpture Magazine, Yishu, Artweek, Shotgun Review, San Francisco Chronicle, SF Weekly, The BayCitizen, Portland Phoenix, Neue Rheinische Zeitung and Rheinische Post in Germany, Lietuvos Zinios and Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania, and the Artists Magazine in Taiwan, among others. His debut solo in San Francisco, As the Butterfly Said to Chuang Tzu, won critical acclaim.