The surname "Chen" holds significant prevalence in China, where the primacy of family honor often surpasses personal aspirations, emphasizing the paramount importance of contributing to the family unit. Concurrently, individual needs and distinct personalities tend to recede into the background. Within my work, I embark on an exploration of harmonizing these cherished traditional family values with the demands of the modern era. I invite individuals bearing the surname "Chen," to artistically render the character "陈" (Chen) in their unique styles. The strokes of the character were then deconstructed and reassembled into sculptures. Each stroke became a canvas for personal images provided by the participants, intertwining their experiences with traditional calligraphy. These artworks embody the tensions when tradition meets modernity, revealing the influence of social structures on individual agency. Viewers can explore the interplay between collective consciousness and personal expression within cultural symbols. Ultimately, these sculptures invite reflection on familial bonds and personal identity in the ever-evolving contemporary landscape.
Rocks from other Mountains, 2022, Installation, 4x7.5 feet
“Rocks from other Mountains” is a composition of rock-shaped wooden panels featuring overlays of papercut infused media. The rock forms were inspired by my father’s drawings and photos of Queshi Mountain in my hometown of Shantou. The paper cutouts were created using unconventional materials, including copies of personal significance during Covid-19 from the Asian immigrant community, immigration forms, and commercial printouts of immigrant-owned businesses. The title is derived from the Chinese idiom “Rocks from other mountains can be used to shaped our jades,” which posits that people of foreign origins are capable of making contributions to their new environments.