Coco Peng ’20: Turning Experiences into Art

Student Coco Peng Posed in Front of Painting Looking Up

Coco Peng ’20 is a studio art and chemistry double major who has rocked the arts scene on campus with the debut of her senior studio art exhibit titled Far Flung.

The exhibit, which was held in the Katherine and Tom Belk Visual Arts Center early in the spring semester, showcased Coco’s experience of leaving her home in Shenzhen, China, to live alone and abroad at the young age of 13.

Coco captured the memories of her childhood abroad using a mixture of oils, spray paints and organic solvents to create stunning visuals on canvas that were a hit within the Davidson community.

“I loved that many of her paintings invoked scenes that a child would see when looking out a plane window”, commented Sneha Mahesh ’20.

"What makes the Davidson art department really special is the opportunity of having a solo exhibition in the senior year."

Coco has always been passionate about art but was not always sure it was something she would pursue in college.

“I chose Davidson because I was drawn to the idea of a liberal arts education,” she said. “As a high school student who had no idea what I wanted to major in, the interdisciplinary aspect of Davidson would allow me to take classes across different departments.

Throughout her four years at Davidson, Coco has taken full advantage of the liberal arts, interdisciplinary education that first appealed to her.

“What makes the Davidson art department really special is the opportunity of having a solo exhibition in the senior year,” said Coco.

She said the senior studio exhibit allowed her to develop her own body of work and express herself in a meaningful and independent way. Looking at her other passion, for science, Coco praised the chemistry faculty who she has worked closely with as a student and lab assistant.

“The relationships I have built with professors are really special. Dr. Striplin and Dr. Hauser, especially, are both mentors and friends that helped me survive my Davidson experience,” she said.

It is quite evident that Coco has not only survived—she has thrived. In addition to her accomplishments as an artist and chemist, Coco is actively involved in SIAD (the Student Initiative for Academic Diversity).

“By directly participating in the hiring process of tenure-track faculty, I want to make Davidson a more inclusive space for students from underrepresented backgrounds,” she explained.

As the end of her last semester of Davidson approaches, Coco hopes to continue expressing herself artistically in a variety of ways. On the job front, she has accepted a position working as a data engineer following graduation.