Mengchen came to Illinois in August 2010 after graduating from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts, first to complete a master's degree and then to join the doctoral program. In her master's thesis completed in 2012, entitled "Comparing Bifa ji and Linquan gaozhi: Shifts in Art Writings from the Five Dynasties and Northern Song Periods," she grappled with some of the most difficult theoretical issues in the field of Chinese art, including the relationship between image making and theories of representation.
She had begun research on the issue of visuality in the 11th century, was a contributor to the enhancement of the ARTstor database in Chinese art, and was planning her dissertation. Mengchen was well respected by the School of Art and Design faculty and by the students she taught. She was passionate about teaching and researching Chinese art and was known for her pleasant personality and her warm, friendly nature. This explains why she was loved by so many in our college. She was dedicated, was meticulous in her work, and radiated a uniquely positive strength. She found delight in the world and was eager to share it. Even the briefest hallway encounters with Mengchen, with her ready smile, were bright moments. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign community was so fortunate to have Mengchen as part of our family.
The School of Art and Design and the College of Fine and Applied Arts have established the Mengchen Huang Memorial Fund with the support of family members, faculty, classmates, and colleagues as an honor to the memory of Mengchen Huang. In consultation with the Huang family, the fund will allow the School of Art and Design to honor the memory of Mengchen in various meaningful ways as listed below in priority order:
- For graduate students studying premodern Chinese studies, including literature, history, and religious studies, with art history as a priority; or
- a research travel award for graduate students to visit collections of Chinese art; or
- a series of campus lectures by prominent Chinese art historians allowing the campus to attract students and enhance campuswide programs in Chinese studies; or
- for undergraduate students studying premodern Chinese studies, including literature, history, and religious studies, with art history as a priority.
If the total amount contributed to the Mengchen Huang Memorial Fund is more than $25,000, an endowment will be established with the University of Illinois Foundation. An endowment will provide income to fund annual awards in Mengchen's memory. Gifts are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.