Mary H. Fong passed away peacefully at the University Retirement Community in Davis, CA on November 24, 2015.
Mary was born in Helena, Montana, in 1924. She grew up in Minot, North Dakota, Hong Kong and China. Her bilingual and bi-cultural heritage was a valuable asset in her university teaching career. When a graduate school art history course stimulated her interest in the rich cultural traditions of China, she decided to study Chinese Art History in order to teach this heritage that she found particularly fascinating. After graduating from St. John's University with a BA in Fine Arts and from Hunter Graduate School in New York with a MA in Western Art History, she obtained a Ph.D. in Chinese Art History from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. She came to UC Davis to teach the art history of China in 1976, in the Department of Art and Art History. She pioneered and established the required curriculum and increased the Department's book and slide collections on Asian art history. Her courses covered Oriental painting, Buddhist sculpture, Chinese and Indian architecture, as well as Chinese ceramics and Japanese prints. They offered a fundamental knowledge of the full spectrum of Asian art from Neolithic to modern times. Her primary research interest focused on the art of the human figure found in the murals of Tang dynasty (618-906) tombs. It was during this period that the art form of human figure depiction reached its highest achievement. None, however have survived to modern time for study, because it was done on Chinese silk, a perishable material. The tomb murals painted by contemporary artist were the only source for an authentic view of the achievement. Mary is survived by her nephew, Francis, and his wife, Rose, of Clayton, and their children, Lauren and Nicholas; niece, Gertrude, and her husband, Johnny, of San Francisco, and their children, Christopher and Alexander. She was preceded in death by her parents, Yick-Yuen and Soo Hoo Shee Fong, her brother, George, and sister-in-law, Nancy. A celebration of life is planned for a future date. Remembrance can be made to Yolo Hospice or to a charity of the donor's choice.
Celebration of Life
Friday, January 16, 2015
University Retirement Community
1515 Shasta Drive
Davis, CA 95616