I’ve discovered a new-to-me artist and become intrigued with her work.
She writes: Multiple voices and viewpoints are the cornerstones of my work, a reflection of my personal history of migration and background in technology, science and art. It is a balancing act of the analytical vs. meditative modes of creating, of re-imagining traditional motifs in a contemporary context, and of understanding our stories as a relationship between narration vs. interpretation.
In a culture of bigger-is-better and faster-is-better, I create small & intimate work, slowly. Influenced by Chinese gongbi style paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and Islamic miniatures, my work combines abstract & representational forms in lush and jewel-like colors, and I invite viewers to interpret, to draw conclusions about this world that we live in.
I myself have an obsession with laundry lines and hanging pieces. Shu-Ju Wang’s work in this vein is also historical and cultural. This installation references the Chinese immigrant experience of working in laundries. The artist says: The Laundry Maze was designed for the lobby of the Portland Building in Portland, Oregon. The project uses the historical reference of the Chinese laundry as a starting point to explore the professional transitions many immigrants face as they find work in different fields in their new lives. As one’s profession is often the most public part of one’s identity, this transition also brings about a change in identity.
And I was also drawn to the elegant work on water, Fluid Dynamics.
Miriam’s Well is so pleased that Shu-Ju Wang agreed to answer some questions below. 1. What advice would you give to your younger self?
This is a very hard one, I have so many things to say to her, but I think the 2 most important things I would say (even though I wouldn’t listen) —
a. Be diligent and work hard. As a child, many things came easily to me, and I also had great short term memory. In a culture where testing and memorization were how you were judged, I did not have to try very hard, so I coasted on that. Other cultural elements at play — as a girl, I wasn’t expected to achieve or succeed; my parents also are not “Tiger Parents,” they just wanted kids who were well behaved. In many ways, there’s nothing wrong with these basic expectations — I think I’m civil-minded (good citizen behavior) and I don’t put my success above that of others. On the other hand, there is so much to learn and do, I wish I could’ve been more “ambitious” as young person. I don’t mean ambition to achieve success, fame, or fortune, but ambition to be more “learned,” for lack of a better word.
b. Don’t be so well behaved that you’re a pushover. There were 2 traps I fell into. When I was very young (before 2nd or 3rd grade), I was very outspoken. Then my teacher told my mother, who then set about to “correct” my behavior. The 2nd was when I immigrated to the US as a 15 year old by myself. I had no idea how to be “acceptable,” and the end result was that I was quite the pushover. I have tried to remedy that.
2. Advice to your future self?
I think I would still tell myself to be diligent and work hard, for as long as I am able to. I find work satisfying, and I hope that the work I am embarking on is necessary.
3. You are in a creative transition right now. How is that going?
Well, it’s going! While it’s been brewing in my head for a couple of years, I only just shed some of my obligations this month. I have been reading a lot and thinking about community projects that I want to start. I am just now doing some preparatory work, but I have nothing to show yet. I started a blog, https://shujuwangartist.com/a-study-of-home, but it’s pretty new and I don’t know that I’ve developed a cohesive vision for what it is to be.