CCA MFA 2021

Apocalyptic – 9.9.2020,37.7018464419476, -122.40675640172758

Date: 9/9/2020; place: Bayshore Roundhouse. This painting depicts the ruin of the once most expensive steam engine roundhouse under the orange, apocalyptic sky caused by wildfire in California. A teenage girl is exploring the ruin in this hazardous environment. Her rebellion and curiosity see meaning in the meaningless and sublime in an apocalyptic situation—this courage insists on living no matter what brings vitality and hope for the future.

oil on canvas

60 in × 48 in

Apocalyptic – Pink Backpack

Pink Backpack is my response to the uncertainty and heaviness I was encountering in 2020 regarding pandemic and social situations. A young woman standing firm in the bleak darkness of ambiguity and vulnerability with her head held up high, seeking clarity and security, ready to fight for freedom from oppression and not be contained by it. The pink backpack takes on a symbolic meaning of what we have from past and present, including psychological richness and burdens with an added feminine essence. Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried, just like the pink backpack.

oil on canvas

36 in × 60 in

Apocalyptic – Battle

We have created machines for efficiency and improving our quality of life. we also have forged devices for killing, destruction, and war. Now, machines are everywhere in our life, taking our time, attention, and shaping how we think. Are we still the master and creators of the machine, or have the objects become the masters?

In Battle, I paint my son’s reflection on a computer console that shows a war scene from the computer game. I feel that I am losing the battle to compete with the machine to get my children’s attention. Is it still possible human can emerge from this battle victoriously?

oil on canvas

48 in × 24 in

Life Stilled – Crumpl

Crumpl depicts a bucket full of used tissues that are filled with tears, snort, sweat, or frustration. I see something beautiful in their messy way. In eastern culture, white means mourning, death, sadness, loss. In comparison, western culture considers white to be pure, holy, peaceful, and joyful. White tissues seem to take on the complexity of both. Painting these simple forms, the mosaic of every day, the overlooked mundane, transforms into flowers, fluorescents, ghosts, faces, spaces. Maybe all the pain I endured is not wasted. It could be beautiful again.

oil on canvas

36 in × 38 in

Life Stilled – Foiled

A tissue box floats in a dark background. A crumpled piece of aluminum foil with sharp folds, piercing points, and jagged edges juts out of the box in place of soft tissue. It waits quietly in the dark till the moment of contact with gentle skin, eyes, or nose. The title for this painting, Foiled, takes on double meaning both literally and as a mental state. The juxtaposition of the tissue box, a symbol of comfort, assistance, and relief with the harsh, cutting aluminum foil, sets an unsettling mood. When I reach for tissues, usually at moments of distress or pain, I hope to have some relief, but instead I encounter harshness.

oil on linen

16 in × 20 in

Commodity – Bound to be,

oil on canvas

30 in × 40 in

My painting process is redolent to understanding myself. By rendering what I see in the mirror and through windows, I record traces and fragments of my journey within, what was and what is. 

I am seduced by beautiful consumer products whose properties attract the eye and invite the mind to contemplate objects of desire through aesthetic values of balance, harmony, symmetry, and grace, that raise the consciousness and elevate the soul to recognize something which holds the capacity to move us in a wordless manner. As a painter I reject the banal innocence of pretty items by infusing beauty with foreboding threats in a social and psychological context. 

The social aspects of commodity culture have always been an undeniable factor impacting consumers. Now more than ever, with the omni presence of social media, online shopping and the relative democratization of luxury, products are valued beyond their usability and exchangeability, and they become symbols of success, status, identity and power. The “I see it, I like it, I want it, I get it” consumer mentality leads to excessiveness, urgency and immediacy. They are the pseudo-panacea and the mask to hide behind, but when ecstasy of the moment and false security wear off, emptiness, rejection, and abandonment remain, fostering an insatiable desire that is never quenched.

Merchandise is the thread woven into the fabric of not only social, economic, and class distinctions, but also sexism and psycho-socialism. My work questions conventional beauty in the context of femininity, sexuality and the male gaze, provoking conversations around topics of the femme fatale, feminist identity and male supremacy. Torn between the allure of beauty and its inherent danger, I address this dilemma as a condition that always accompanies me.

Commodity – Admonition

acrylic on canvas

40 in × 60 in

Commodity – Lure of the Skin

oil on canvas

48 in × 60 in

Commodity – Weapon

oil on aluminum

26 in × 72 in

Artist Statement

My painting practice stems from my perspective on the world as an immigrant, a mother and wife, a woman, and an artist. My subject matter includes my daughter, lipstick, purses, belts, jewelry, and crumpled tissues. Observing these subjects, I address themes of family, feminism, and consumerism.

Dystopia is my most recent work, responding to hate crime in America and collaborating with my grandfather’s Chinese painting. I want to give voice to the quiet and those who can no longer speak.

I follow the tradition of vanitas painting in my “Commodity” series, but I depict careful arrangements of contemporary designer goods - lipstick, purses, belts, and jewelry. I contemplate the struggle of being seduced by beautiful consumer products with glossy surfaces and accompanied danger in a social and psychological context. This series questions conventional beauty in the framework of femininity, sexuality, and the male gaze.

In the “Apocalyptic” series, I paint my daughter looking for the sublime in apocalyptic environments, posed in crumbling buildings, standing against graffiti-covered walls. Rendering a young woman within environmental disaster and the darkness of the unknown, I portray the rebellious and exploratory spirit of the next generation carrying on living despite the uncertain world they inherit.

In the Life Stilled series, I paint used tissues as crumpled records of my emotions and depict my understanding of life through simple mundane forms. The tissues are the visible aftermath of sadness and loss, yet vessels of beauty and tears of joy. I contemplate meaning inside the meaningless and focus on the possibilities of transformation.