I am fascinated with creating distance through space and scale. In my street pieces, I am a mere passerby. My paintings are the lens through which I view my surroundings, and the audience is invited to share my experience of the world.
At the age of 16, I left China and travelled across the Pacific to study in the U.S. as an international exchange student. I was assigned to an American family and lived with them for three years. Becoming part of a new family in a foreign country was both refreshing and challenging. I appreciated the opportunity to become a member of an American family and ultimately learned more about American culture from them than through any other channel. However, although we lived together, ate together, went to school together, and followed almost the same routine, I always felt apart, as though there was always something off, and something miscommunicated or misunderstood between me and the family. Even though I was technically part of the household, I never felt like a part of the family. I was faced with a new and uncomfortable reality, that of the outsider.
It has been seven years since I first moved to the United States. I have since experienced many beautiful memories here and have grown exponentially, yet this feeling of alienation remains. Despite being immersed in American culture, my identity remains distinctly different, and my experience as an international student and a new immigrant has shaped my art, informing a perspective that is curious and observant, but extremely distant.
I am fascinated with creating distance through space and scale. In my street pieces, I (the artist) am a mere passerby. My paintings are the lens through which I view my surroundings, and the audience is invited to share my experience of the world. I observe the people and feel the room. I am adjacent to the action. Yet I am never inside those spaces. The scenes are locations that I have passed by countless times, and the spaces are meant to feel inviting or familiar while also creating a sense of distance. For example, the chair facing the viewer at the door creates tension between the invitation to enter and the chair blocking the way. It is my intent to express my own experience of alienation through these ideas. The pieces are meant to resonate with anyone who can identify as being both within and excluded from American society.
In my landscape pieces, the scale of the figures is minuscule relative to their vast surroundings. I see these diminutive characters as self-portraits, depicting the emotional state of being an outsider. By contrasting the grand and the small, I am fostering a sense of isolation. The fuzzy atmosphere conveys estrangement and detachment. These are all places in America that I have visited, and the paintings are a reflection on my experience of disconnect between my pre-American and American experiences, including my separation from my family and friends, as well as my evolving cultural background and identity. I believe this sense of "unbelongingness" is not unique to myself, and that many others--international students, immigrants, minorities, or anyone who has encountered an unfamiliar culture or society--can understand and share my perspective.