ARTIST STATEMENT: My paintings and drawings negotiate the duality and dichotomy of my existence as an Asian immigrant woman in America. As an outsider, I am more aware of the contradictions in the plurality of cultures in the present American society. As a feminist, I am repulsed and demoralized by the objectification of female bodies in art history and popular culture, yet I find myself strongly attracted to sensuality of these images. This paradox has led me to combine the rigidity of patterns with the imagery of desire in the female body. In recent work, I replace the body with the images of lusciously styled food while heightening the complexity with the mixture of patterns and icons derived from various Western and Eastern sources. The resulting images are self-portraits that represent the plurality and multiplicity of my identity as an Asian-American immigrant woman.
The patterns, signifiers for both eastern and western cultures form architectural platforms that simultaneously showcase and suffocate the food. The food, both in harmony and clash with its surroundings, is the body (literally and metaphorically) and the surrogate for desire to consume and control. Densely packed and precisely hand-painted patterns simultaneously create and interrupt the space where the still life is presented. The rhythm of the patterns is echoed in the composition of the still life and natural patterns found in the food. A complicated interweaving of foreground and background, created by patterns, icons, painterly smears and the realistic depiction of still lifes, in many different styles and mediums, generates confounding spatial ebb and flow, and increases the spatial tension.
While the images of the food are reminiscent of the Dutch still life tradition, the divergent styles, collage-like dissonance and the breaking of the picture planes acknowledge the practice of painting in a post-modern era. At the same time, through a labor-intensive process of hand painting, I cast a critical eye on the mechanical reproduction and proliferation of imagery in our daily lives. In more recent pieces, I am also exploring the ethical and ecological aspects of modern food consumption by juxtaposing mass-produced industrial food with organic, homemade products. Particularly, I subvert the marketing messages of famous brands by placing their advertising slogans out of context among highly crafted patterns rooted in older cultural traditions in an effort to examine the proliferation of advertising imagery and its impact on visual culture.