Prominent Brandon artist Weiming Zhao to receive honorary doctorate from BU

A man in glasses poses in a studio portrait.
Weiming Zhao

A beloved Brandon artist will be recognized with an honorary degree during Brandon University’s (BU’s) Convocation this week.

Weiming Zhao will receive a Doctor of Literature degree during Friday’s Faculty of Arts Convocation ceremony, which begins at 2 p.m., at BU’s Healthy Living Centre. Zhao is a BU alumnus, who moved to Brandon as an international student in 1991 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology exactly 30 years ago this month. Today, he is well known for his daily plein air paintings that capture iconic scenes of the city as well as many other sites in western Manitoba. In fact, the recent BU tradition of presenting each graduate with an art print, along with their degree, began with a Zhao painting of Clark Hall in 2020.

“Weiming is such a fixture of our community that anyone who spends a significant amount of time in Brandon has seen him numerous times as he paints captivating views of our community,” said Dr. David Docherty, BU’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “Through his paintings, Weiming has a knack for summoning new beauty and nostalgia from sites we pass every day. I can’t help but smile when I see him standing at his easel, no matter the weather and I am proud to have a Weiming original hanging in my office. I am thrilled to count Weiming among our alumni and I am delighted to have him back on our stage again this Friday for Convocation.”

A man stands at an easel painting a university building. The building is seen in the background.
Weiming Zhao paints Clark Hall at Brandon University during Homecoming Weekend 2016.

Originally planning to leave Brandon after completing his degree, Zhao credits the support and connections through BU that encouraged him to remain here, and his prolific painting ever since has earned him great acclaim, including recognition from national publications. Starting as a hobby, Weiming has committed to completing a painting a day since 2003, totalling more than 7,000 local scenes and Westman landmarks. He has had more than 20 solo exhibitions, and his artwork is in collections across Canada, China, the United States and Russia. Fourteen of his paintings are in the Manitoba provincial art collection, and on a regular basis, his works are sought after for fundraising auctions and regional calendars.

From these daily observations over the past two decades, Weiming has produced an absolutely unparallelled chronicle of Brandon — perhaps the only community anywhere in the world to have been painted so often, for so long, by one person.

Brandon University bestows individuals with an honorary degree based on significant service to the university community or society; excellence in professional life or public service; or advancement of knowledge through research or teaching. Each year nominations are received from within the BU community as well as from other supporters of the University.

Around 460 students will receive their degrees at this year’s two-day event, with ceremonies for graduates in Science and Music (Thursday, 10 a.m.), Education (Thursday, 2 p.m.), Health Studies (Friday, 10 a.m.) and Arts (Friday, 2 p.m.).


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