I have been living in America for over 30 years, mostly in the Tampa Bay Area and sometimes in New York City, as a practicing artist and art educator. Originally coming from Shanghai, China, I focus my art on issues that conflict with our contemporary cultures, from the perspective of a diaspora.
I am an artist of ranging media: painting, sculpture, photography, video, performance art and installation, etc. In my art practice, contents superset forms and methods. While oscillating between media, I intend to write narratives of my limited vision of the world with a common thread: tragedies.
For example, in my recent exhibitions, I used a sculpture/video installation to discuss the dilemma of contemporary life being pulled by forces of mental and physical attractions, in the exhibition “Weightlessness” at the National Nanjing Museum of China; I used paintings and electronic sculpture to question human identity/fidelity via EKG heart prints of the wounded soldiers in Iraq, in the exhibition “Language of Heart” at the Elliott Gallery of Eckerd College; I used 200 sculptures and performance/videos to stage a “suicide” of animals to protest the consumption of nature by humans, in the exhibition “Last Meal” at the Saltcreek Art Space; I used brown sugar and tobacco leaves “smuggled” from Cuba to create sculptures, along with videos and music to debate the fear and propaganda of different political societies, in the exhibition “Sugar Bombs” at the galleries of HCC and MIT in Boston; I used sand, video, interactive electronics and wearable materials to address the cultural clashes and misunderstandings, in the interactive exhibition “Human Tide” at the gallery of Florida State College; I used paintings, sculptures/videos to present the vulnerability of Asian Americans in American politics, in the exhibition “Invisible Elephant” at the Polk Museum of Art; I used chewing gums as found objects, to address the ephemera of the art world, in the exhibition “Art Amnesty” at MoMa PS1, New York; I used paintings, photographic sculptures/video to reveal the imperfection/self-doubts of our mental capacity biased by social surroundings, in the exhibition “Yes & No” at the CASS Contemporary, etc.
My latest series of mixed-media paintings, sculptures and installation, that I as titled “Human Skins”, that deal with the issues of immigration and critique the notion of "artistic purity”.
As artists, we all enjoy the design and process of art making. Yet, I am not satisfied only by the visual sensations. Watching a shirt from the debris of the WTC site, a shoe in the rubbles of a bombed village, and a skirt of a sunken refugee washed to shore, I am daunted by the stories behind those colors, lines, shapes, textures and materials. They are skins that humanity left behind.
I believe it’s the artists’ obligation to respond to our social surroundings. When facing human tragedies, any arguments about the “sublimity and purity of art” seem anemic.
I call my new body of work “Social Abstract”, a pun on the “Socialist Realism” that I grew up with in China, as a critique to the “Zombie Formalism”.
To me, what you see is not always what you get.