Ming, a chill and aqueous 1982 work on paper, forged a new path between Mary Heilmann and art history. Ming's malleable and imperfect grid echoed across works from the '80s that Heilmann described "like a day dream." By adding a big brush mark atop an underlying cruciform composition that referenced Mondrian, Heilmann interjected rhythm and irregularity to the history of hard-edged painting.
The cadence of ceramic making characterized Ming as well as Heilmann's studies at UC Berkeley. Heilmann recalled "I did a lot of blue and white ceramics...I do remember being inspired by Chinese Porcelain," elaborating, "I just like...the Chinese Ming dynasty idea that the glaze is totally blue and clear, just blue and white." Heilmann molded the patient process of coloring ceramics into a layered palette that set off a stream of associations: ancient pottery, modernists like Mondrian and recollections of her own childhood's beachy shorelines.