My art, which reflects my life transformations, has gone through several transformations as well. These are summarized below.
Suffer to succeed
Being Chinese, I was taught that everyone needs to suffer to succeed. That is, “no pain no gain” and “only the bitter medicine will make you well.” As a practicing Buddhist, I learned before you reached enlightenment you would go through suffering. These life philosophies are reflected in my earliest series of works using the metaphors of the Lotus, Butterfly, Fish and Pearl, each with their transformations into beautiful beings.
Enjoy daily life
I started drinking coffee after I came to the US from Taiwan for graduate study. I enjoy having coffee when I eat Western food, especially with sweets. One day when I looked at the discarded coffee filters, I noticed that the coffee stains and shapes looked as beautiful as flowers. I felt, why do I struggle so to make art that is so serious and complex, with such philosophical pain and sophistication? I just wanted to create art about everyday things around me that I enjoy. Why did I have to create art subjects as metaphors of “feeling the pain for the gain in life?’ I began to free myself from the past obligation to paint suffering, by creating art about the simple things around me. Instead
of throwing the coffee filters away, I “recycled” them into my art. Each filter is unique, and I manipulated them into images with media technology. I discovered that I enjoyed making art that connected me more to everyday life and objects around me.
New Dimensions to life
It has been said, “you are what your eat,” and I transformed it to, “you are what you drink.” Having a cup of tea has always been a part of my daily joyful routine. Many teas I drink bring comfort, while others are good for my health. One day after drinking a cup of tea, I started to notice the dried tea leaves, and how each leaf has the diversity found in human beings--some fat, some thin, and some tall, some short. So, I started to select and sculpture the dried tea leaves and the coffee grounds, to reuse and integrate these environmentally friendly materials into a 3-dimensional art series: Tea and Coffee. I also integrated the Eastern and Western culture of tea and coffee with traditional Chinese landscapes using Chinese brush strokes with coffee stain. In, 2011, this art series was awarded the Traveling Fellowship from the School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, and I chose to travel to Italy.
Taste of Italy
2011 was an opportunity for personal growth and freedom. My series of artwork reflected "Tasting Italy with my 6 senses". In Italy, I FELT more daring and free, excited by the morning cappuccinos, the food, the fashion and the architecture. I also noticed the rolling hills and vineyards of grapes and olives. I was drawn to the beauty of the green
olive leaves and the aged vines, which I started to paint to express the harmony of nature as man makes olive oil and wine. Again I chose to re-use environmentally-friendly materials.
Meditation and Chanting
In the Meditation series, I painted a picture of my actual meditation pose. I used various media in two-dimensional or three-dimensional work. I created a single piece, diptych, or triptych to represent her concepts of purifying and cleansing the body. In the Chanting Series, I chanted with each brush stroke. Producing rhythmic patterns of color and texture. These two series were alike in my focus on contemplation and repose.
My Memory series was inspired from depicting unexpectedly joyful "memory" that has formed in my 95 year old mother's mind. These fictitious "memories" reflect how my mother's Alzheimer has generated stories from history with happy personal narratives. I used pink to represent her youthful feminine innocence as she regressed into childhood. I treated the dyed bathroom tissue with archival glue resulting in beautiful, fragile fabric. For example, the diptych Memory: Time shows the transition of memory thread from clear and rational to muddled and fragmented and lost.
I defined memory by its elusive, fragile and often imprecise nature. It is at once fleeting and ever present for all of us.
The material: “memory threads” are made from dyed and twisted bathroom tissue—they suggest how memory can easily dissolve and tatter.
After focus on my memory about my mother, I expanded to other memories, such as Memory of Tuscany when I was a Traveling Fellow in Italy and visited Rome, Tuscany, Venice….. I combined natural/native materials with the image of Chinese Running Script and used Tuscany wine to imitate a Chop with my name and studio name.
Point of View: Mountain, Sky and Water Series
Traditional Chinese art is firmly grounded in a focus on landscape and nature. Mountain views, cloud filled skies, and verdant, tree -lined river valleys have been a focus for centuries. My newest series is rooted in the Chinese tradition but overtly and quite dramatically shifts the viewer’s eye through color and contrast, angular perspective and pure form.
The series presumes that viewing the world around us, including the natural world, is very much a function of our “point of view.” I depicted the natural world in terms of stark forms, competing views and strong overarching themes. This artistic, conceptualized view of the natural world begs the questions of the limit and potential of perspective through the juxtaposition of angle with bright color and in some instances, playful references.
Each work in this series speaks to the potential to take a critical point of view analogous to the often cited description of the power of the Hubble Telescope to view deep space: the more we look, the more we see! In these works, the viewer is reminded that how we look determines what we see; that there are multiple ways of looking; and that higher order thinking –or seeing – results from intentional effort to take these factors into account. The viewer is challenged to separate figure from ground. Can we see the forest through the trees? Can we appreciate the limits and power of our point of view?