Charles Jiao grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution, which caused his formal education to be frequently interrupted. To avoid wasting his time, his father had him get tutored from family friends including an artist, who brought him into the art world. After graduating from high school in 1973, he spent two years farming, as mandated by the government, before finding a job as a designer in a department store, thanks to his earlier training in art. After the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, He was able to study chemistry at Xiamen University, eventually becoming a lecture at a university in his hometown.
In 1986 Jiao left China for the United States for graduate education, where he earned a Master of Science and a PhD in chemistry respectively from University of Minnesota-Duluth and Purdue University. During this period he continued his study of art through private lessons of watercolor, for two years of spare time. A chemist position with a government contract company for Air Force Research Laboratory brought him to Dayton, Ohio, where he continued to paint as a hobby, and began to work in oils.
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