KIRK KE WANG

artist, college professor, museum board director and educational software developer

about

Kirk Ke Wang, Kirk Wang, 王舸, Wang Ke, Wang Ge
Born in Shanghai and living in Tampa Bay and NYC, for over 33 years, I focus my art on issues that conflict my experiences with today's mainstream typecasts, from the standpoint of a diaspora.

In my art practice, contents overrule forms and methods. I experiment with a wide range of media, such as painting, sculpture, photography, video, conceptual, performance and installation art, etc. Although oscillating between them, I intend to weave a tapestry of my vision of the world, led by a consistent thread: the fear of inexorable cataclysm.

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” (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” (Elliott Gallery of Eckerd College);
  • I used 200 sculptures made of toy blankets and performance/videos to stage a “suicide” of animals to protest the consumption of nature by humans, in the exhibition “Last Meal” (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” (Galleries of HCC in Tampa 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” (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” (Polk Museum of Art);
  • I used chewing gums as found objects, to address the ephemera of the art world, in the exhibition “Art Amnesty” (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” (CASS Contemporary), etc.
  • I experimented with clothing materials collected from migrants and thrift stores, in my recent exhibitions at the Ringling Museum of Art and the Morean Arts Center. My series of mixed-media paintings, sculptures and installation, as metaphor of the “Human Skins”, are dealing with the issues of immigration and the lower income working class, as well as critiquing the notion of "artistic purity”.
  • I am fascinated with the clothing that I found in the thrift stores, as they were worn first by the riches and donated to the poor later. Those clothes have experienced lives from the wealthy to the poor, from the Americans to the immigrants. Different from our natural skins, they are our social skins.

    Like most artists, I enjoy the aesthetics and process of art making. Yet, I am not satisfied 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 abstract works “Social Abstract”, a pun on the “Socialist Realism” that I grew up with in China, as a critique to the “Zombie Formalism”.

Finally, I enjoy playing visual “games” with syntaxes that are deemed antediluvian according to  western canons. What You See Is Not Always What You Get in art, as well as in life.