My work explores my identity as a Chinese American in the landscape of the American South, and seeks to confront the changing, and perhaps disappearing, relationship that our society has with the natural environment as we are being constantly distracted by the noise of modern technology.
I am a first-generation American, and I grew up in a traditional Chinese household where our heritage was celebrated. We valued simplicity in the home, and we valued nature and environment. My father is a computer engineer, and as my younger brother grew up and started taking after him, I watched various components of technology creep into our home, little by little, until there were wires, metals, transformers, batteries, and computers, and other electronic equipment in nearly every room of the house. What was once simple, clean, and organized, became unstructured, chaotic, and stressful. I came to despise much of technology. The natural landscape and the garden became my regular escape from the constant buzz and hum of electronics, as well as from the stresses of everyday life.
I work mostly en plein air and use tangible memory (remembering touch and smells) when I need to work indoors. Photographic references are used only as necessary, since sometimes my subjects wilt and die before I can complete a project. I tend to spend as much time outdoors as possible, sometimes working until there is almost no sunlight in the sky, perhaps as a subconscious rejection of the artificiality of man-made noises and lights. As I get older, I also find that I greatly fear that in the same way electronics took over my childhood home, our modern society will slowly consume the natural world irreversibly.
A part of me yearns for the beauty and simplicity of the Chinese bird-and-flower paintings and Chinese ink-wash paintings that I grew up with, but in the same way that I cannot push out the computers and reclaim the peacefulness that was once in my childhood home, I recognize that I have lived in a landscape where the scenery is distinctly American, often chaotic, and slightly cluttered. In my work, I seek to express the ideas and philosophies found in traditional Chinese art while conveying my own perspective as a Chinese American. My hope is that by using botanical subjects, I can bring my viewer a sense of calmness and, before it is too late, call to attention the importance of seeing and caring for every large and small element of the natural landscape that often serves as our only escape from this ever-evolving world of noise and constant distraction.