How did you get into making art?
Having been trained as a biomedical scientist since childhood, I had never experienced “making art” until I moved to the United States for my PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the same field. Studying abroad and attending the highest educational level have forced me to think hard about what I want from life. During my program, I felt pretty lost. Making images with my iPhone became my only escape from reality during this time.
Those pictures that I posted on social media at the time led me to Kimowan Metchewais at UNC-CH, an art professor. He referred me to some continuing education classes about photography. I have never stopped taking pictures since then.
What are you currently working on?
My art explores the downside of consumerism and alienation that is happening in our current capitalist system. With my personal story and the material I use (inkjet printable fabric), my ongoing project: “21 Grams: The Weight of Souls” combines interview, photography, and sculpture through a documentary approach to explore the disenfranchised faces of middle-class people and the entanglement between individual and social fabric in this profit-driven society.
I interview people who left their previous careers to pursue their dreams of being artists, including myself. The series has evolved into an exhaustive catalog of the untold stories and faces of the middle class. Their faces are distorted by the materiality of the digital printable fabric and grocery bags I use as my medium, symbolizing the role of social fabric, commodities, and human labor in constructing our value. This series not only highlights the power of art, the downside of capitalism, but also reflects both the internal and external struggles throughout their transitions in the modern era.
Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?
Self-reflection is a habit of mine. Why do I use this material/approach conceptually and aesthetically? What does this color, shape, or line mean to me? Every choice and result is a combination of conscious choice and subconscious spontaneity. Due to this nature, I usually work on distinct projects.
What’s a typical day like in your studio?
As a morning person and fortunate enough to have a home studio, I really enjoy getting up early. The first thing I do in the morning is making myself an espresso latte. Afterward, I will sketch for an hour or two to get my ideas flowing, but I don’t always plan to follow it. This is also the time when I plan my day by the hour. When I am working in my studio, I lead a very structural and restricted life.
Who are your favorite artists?
Mapplethorpe for embracing his sexuality and elevating BDSM photography into fine art.
Letha Wilson for her material experimentation. She is known for combining photography and sculpture to create works that expand their visual and physical dimensions.
David Ireland for his famous quotes, “You can’t make art by making art”.
Where do you go to discover new artists?
Galleries and museums.