Are we willing to realize our own imperfections and begin the process of change in thought and belief? Maybe, something akin to a spiritual awakening.
Painted in 2010 following a series of grocery works and paintings, I was inspired by the question of racial stereotypes and their implications in the marketing and sales of consumer products.
What are they portraying?
Do they continue to promote racial bias and prejudice?
What are their lasting effects on our American society?
In 2020, with the wake and rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the contextual and historical meaning of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben branded images have been re-examined and removed from the shelves and packaging.
Be Somebody with a Body, 2016
Painted during the heyday of “Selfies” and social media blasts, I was interested in exploring the meaning of one’s identity and sense of ‘self’ or being using the iconic Wheaties cereal as a vehicle to answer the question: Who are we, and who will we become?
I thought about the numerous star athletes who have appeared on the box and what it meant to be somebody, to have the perfect physical body. I also thought about the meaning of status and becoming in the context of Bruce Jenner, an Olympic athlete who appeared on the box numerous times, transforming to Caitlyn Jenner, a female persona who he expressed as his authentic being.
The absence of a person in this piece provides the viewer the opportunity to stand in front of the iconic image and to just be who and what they truly are in the present moment. As Marcel Duchamp said, “The viewer completes the works of art.” Moreover, the viewer who participates in the art becomes an integral part of the art.
Constructed from wood, this street sized mailbox is painted with blackboard paint with writing in chalk scrawled like graffiti remembering the names of the black men and women who were killed due to racial or police violence. The sculpture invokes the painful and violent history of race relations in this country and strives, using each individual's name and the date of death, to connect our past with our present. Seeing and recognizing the names and dates helps us to reflect on where we are and what is to become of us.
Black Male, 1989-present
I am a recovering addict and the idea/concept behind this piece came to me while standing in line at a methadone clinic waiting to get my daily dose. At the clinic, each patient is asked to take a ticket from a basket and present it to the attending nurse to receive a dose. While waiting in line day-after-day, I thought about and compiled a list about all the numerous things I could admit to and the value of such admissions in the context of my heroin addiction and recovery.
Ticket to Recovery, 2007
Jesus and Guns, 2012-16
The Jesus figures and guns are cast in milk chocolate. This provides a setting and context for the viewer to examine their own absurdist notions related to societal rules versus spiritual belief. The piece is meant to inspire the viewer to ask disturbingly probing questions about their own faith, belief system, and principles.
Do we suffer from cognitive dissonance?
Would you bite the head off Jesus or put the chocolate gun in your mouth?
Would you enjoy the moments of sweet revenge or would you turn the other cheek in forgiveness?
Ultimately, are we willing to realize our own imperfections and begin the process of change in thought and belief? Maybe, something akin to a spiritual awakening.
Constructed and made from wood and painted to look like Chinese take-out boxes, they have been stacked like a totem. In art historical context, it references Constantin Brancusi’s Endless Column and Andy Warhol’s silkscreen sculpture boxes, i.e., Brillo boxes. As a Chinese-American, the take-out boxes summon feelings in me of being disposable and easily discarded by American society, along with all the derogatory language, facial features, and Asian stereotypes.
Untitled (6 Take-out Boxes), 1990
Betrayal, 2013-16, acrylic on canvas, 15 x 15 each
A set of 55 canvases are painted to look like WALK/DONT WALK signal crossings.
They are arranged with an interplay of color and rapped poetry of words that create a large scale installation (a wall of DONTS) of immediacy and power, that forewarn, but also impose and dictate of authoritative condemnation. The cumulative effect of each negative statement results in a feeling of paralysis, fear, and stuckness, but it also allows the viewer to ask themselves: “If I can’t do any of these things, what can I do?” Each viewer must decide for themselves.