Artist Ma Ly is right where he wants to be, doing what he says he was meant to do, sharing his love and knowledge of art.
“It’s always been a need to share, to share things to share my passion, my knowledge,” Ly says.
He teaches art to anyone who wants to learn, and he has students as young as six and as old as 82.
“Everybody is welcomed,” he says. “No experience necessary, you are here because you want to learn.”
Ly’s passion for art was stoked as a child growing up in France.
“I was born in Laos, I’m of Hmong decent and after the Vietnam War, we relocated to France with my uncles and I was later adopted by a French family,” Ly explains.
“They exposed me to the art world, without them I would have never been interested in the art world,” he says.
A trip to Fresno to visit relatives showed him that there was a vibrant art community here, one that welcomed and encouraged him.
So, he stayed.
“I’m just happy that he came all the way from Paris and ended up in Fresno of all places and we are lucky to have him people are drawn to him,” says Gudo Hallston, art student.
Just as she was encouraged, she is encouraging others.
Hallston, 77, loved art as a young person, but a high school teacher was very discouraging and she put her paint brushes down. She has been a student of Ly’s for three years now.
“I felt encouraged, and I felt ‘Oh I can do this because Ma is so gentle and he doesn’t criticize in a negative way.'”
Ly has been in Fresno for 10 years now, and has been honored for teaching and sharing his art with the community. He recently moved into his new studio, Vernissage. It is large enough for him to teach even more students, a place for other artist to show their work, a place where all can share.
“I felt to share what I know, my passion, my knowledge, it’s probably the true meaning of my life of my life as an artist,” Ly says.